Premier League 18/19: Wolves vs Manchester City – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City travel to Molineux for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off in search of their third successive league win.
12:30 BST, Saturday 25th August, Molineux, Sky Sports Main Event
Fresh off the back of a 6-1 dismantling of Huddersfield Town, the Premier League champions travel to the West Midlands to face Premier League newcomers Wolves.
The home side have had a slow start to the new campaign as they have claimed just one point from their opening two fixtures and were beaten 2-0 by Leicester City last time out.
There have been no such struggles for Guardiola’s City side though as they comfortably beat Arsenal in London on the opening weekend before running riot against the Terriers.
These two teams haven’t met in the league since 2012 though a then-Championship Wolves held a strong City team to a 0-0 draw in last season’s League Cup, before losing on penalties.
Last Time Out
Leicester City 2-0 Wolves
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were handed their first defeat of the season at the King Power Stadium last Saturday after Matt Doherty headed the ball into his own net before James Maddison added a second on the stroke of half time.
The Portuguese named an unchanged team from the 2-2 with Everton on the opening weekend and his side may feel as though they could have taken something from the game.
Wolves hit the woodwork twice in the opening period, with Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez finding the crossbar and post, respectively.
Referee Mike Dean dismissed Jamie Vardy midway through the second half after a late challenge on Doherty, though Wolves couldn’t find a way back into the game despite the impressive introduction of record signing, Adama Traore.
Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield Town
David Wagner’s side admirably held a star-studded Manchester City team to a 0-0 draw in this fixture last season, though a repeat performance would always be tough.
Guardiola, in trademark fashion, named a changed side from the win over Arsenal which saw Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling drop to the bench, with Bernardo Silva playing on the right side of a 3-5-2.
As expected, City were on top from the beginning and it took 25 minutes for Sergio Aguero to find the net with a delicate, lofted finish over Ben Hamer in the visitors’ net. The Argentine added his second of the game ten minutes later after Gabriel Jesus had doubled the lead.
City were four goals to the good shortly after the restart after a brilliantly struck David Silva free kick found the top corner, before Aguero grabbed his 13th Premier League hat-trick minutes before being replaced, before Terrance Kongolo helplessly deflected the ball into his own net five minutes from time to complete the rout.
Wolves aren’t the side to sit back and defend – even against Manchester City – so Nuno may field the same starting XI for the third game in a row. The recent own goal aside, Doherty will feel Ruben Vinagre breathing down his neck for a spot on the team sheet.
Romain Saiss’ ability to provide added defensive midfield cover is another option for Wolves, though in the current set-up, it is hard to see where the Moroccan fits.
Now fully fit, Traore may be in line to replace Helder Costa on the right side of the attack, while Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez look to continue their threatening partnership alongside him.
Manchester City Lineup
Guardiola is developing a habit of rotating elements of his starting XI every game though the Spaniard intentionally opted for technical ability over pace to break down a potentially stubborn Huddersfield defence last Sunday.
Wolves will try to attack City when they can, so the reintroduction of Sterling and Walker could be in the offing.
John Stones is yet to put a foot wrong in defence so should keep his place while Leroy Sane could be in line to make his first start of the season to provide pace out wide.
Kevin De Bruyne’s continued absence could be good news for Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva in the midfield as the pair will hope to continue a bright start.
Key Battle: Matt Doherty vs Raheem Sterling
Wolves’ determination to attack and carry the ball forward when they have it will inevitably expose spaces between their lines should they lose possession.
Nuno’s side will try to play football against City, and the challenge for Guardiola’s side will differ from the one that Huddersfield presented them with last weekend.
The anguish of scoring an own goal will still be raw for Doherty though coming up against arguably the best attack in the league won’t afford the time to take stock and lick wounds.
Sterling’s pace and directness will be a constant threat for Doherty and the pressing may force the home side to revert from the usual 3-4-3 tactic to a more defensive 5-2-3. The interchanging City attack could mean the right wing-back comes up against multiple opponents throughout the 90 minutes.
Can Wolves repeat last season’s feat?
A Championship Wolves side succeeded where Premier League counterparts were failing last season. Nuno’s team kept their star-studded opponents at bay for 120 minutes in the League Cup, taking them all the way to a penalty shoot-out.
Wolves fans will hope that history can repeat itself, though, they will know this will be a very different game, too.
Manchester City are already rampant, two games into this new season, scoring eight times and being breached only once – it’s a scary prospect for much of the rest of the division.
Nuno’s approach will be the key on Saturday – it’s not in his nature to play defensively, but would he benefit from changing his tactics slightly, for one game…?
Manchester City solving all the puzzles
During the summer, Guardiola publicly admitted he and his backroom team were developing ways to counteract the more defensive-minded opponents they faced last time out.
His side only put one goal past Huddersfield in both fixtures last term, but the 6-1 win showed their pre-season tinkering has paid off, so far.
Wolves, though, will provide another different challenge on Saturday. Despite being newly promoted, Nuno’s side won’t be just making up the numbers this campaign and will want to compete with, and match, the teams they face in the top flight.
Guardiola’s team will once again be the one to beat this season and every opponent they face will be eager to be the first to do it; Wolves will be no exception.
Prediction: Wolves 1-3 Manchester City
Manchester City could have scored ten goals last weekend, but Guardiola would always have been more upset about the one they conceded. Defensive work would have been the focus at training this week.
Wolves will carry a threat, though, and City aren’t unbreachable. In attack though, they’ll have too much for the home side. 1-3.
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