Man City predicted the line-up against Brentford


Top of the table Manchester City ends an extraordinary calendar year of Premier League football with a trip to Brentford on Wednesday night.

Even adjusting for the varying number of matches played by the ever-present Premier League clubs in 2021, City are still rising to the top across the board; earns the highest percentage of wins (81%), scores the most goals per match (2.6) and concedes the least (0.7).

Here is XI Pep Guardiola can choose to finish an impressive 12 months.

Nathan Ake Can Get Started When Others Are Rested / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages

Ederson (GK) – When you only need to do two or three (on a bad day) save a game, simply keeping warm for the rest of the 90 minutes is certainly an important issue for Ederson this time of year.

Joao Cancelo (RB) – He is considered the world’s best defender by his national team manager Fernando Santos – an even bigger sign of the consistency and quality of Cancelo’s performances is his appearance in all but one Premier League match so far in the ever-changing City XI.

Ruben Dias (CB) – This year’s reigning FWA football player does not hurt his chances of a repeat win by anchoring the defense that has not only conceded the least goals in Europe’s top five leagues, but also the least shots this season.

Nathan Åke (CB) – While Aymeric Laporte has been restored to the defensive first pair, Ake can come in to give the Spanish national team player a rest after his team-mate started each of City’s last four matches in 15 days.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) – With Kyle Walker remaining invisible following a brainless expulsion from RB Leipzig (through injury rather than a lengthy penalty), Zinchenko could very well make a fifth straight Premier League start for the first time since the summer of 2019.

Veteran Fernandinho was able to keep his place / James Williamson – AMA / GettyImages

Fernandinho (DM) – The likely absence of Rodri leaves the role at the base of City’s midfield to the squad’s oldest member (the 36-year-old has four months on Scott Carson) who has played there once or twice before.

Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – A figure of zero Premier League assists may look cruel, but the Belgian has created chances worth 3.4 expected goals (per FBref) this semester – the largest figure in the division for a player who has not yet scored.

Ilkay Gundogan (CM) – For a midfielder who has previously shown little inclination to score, it is even more remarkable that only two players have scored more Premier League goals in 2021 than Gundogan (15).

It does not matter that City lacks a real “number nine” / Alex Pantling / GettyImages

Raheem Sterling (RW) – Five goals in his last four Premier League appearances (as many as in his previous 24 appearances) have helped Sterling sneak into the role of the club’s top scorer so far this season.

Bernardo Silva (ST) – The unique individual among City’s thriving collective will not escape the uncertainty surrounding each Guardiola’s start XI – although it’s more a question of where, rather than whether, Bernardo will play.

Phil Foden (LW) – Despite a sharply worded warning that Guardiola threw away during Christmas, the Catalan coach can give Foden his first start in two weeks to provide the defensive breadth that City often use to tease open spaces against a five-man back line.

You can read 90mins preview of Brentford vs Man City here. You can read Brentford’s predicted line-up here.

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