How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Wigan
Having romped to a 4-1 win over local rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City side face a quick turnaround as they welcome Championship club Wigan Athletic to the Etihad Stadium for a League Cup tie on Tuesday evening in a repeat of last year's FA Cup final.
City host Wigan, who, thanks to a late Ben Watson goal, beat them 1-0 at Wembley back in May, but who now find themselves under the guidance of Owen Coyle following relegation and the departure of Roberto Martinez in the summer. Both sides will be playing their first English cup game of the season, due to their respective obligations in the Champions League (City) and Europa League (Wigan).
Being played little more than 48 hours after their success in the derby, the Premier League side are expected to make wholesale changes to their starting XI. As such, here's a look at how the Citizens will line up against the Latics:
Goalkeeper: Costel Pantilimon
The giant Romanian international stopper has been on the City bench for each of their six competitive fixtures so far this season, but the 26-year-old should get the nod to make his first appearance of the campaign.
Pantilimon, standing at 6'8", with 16 international caps to his name, was City's starting 'keeper in six of their seven domestic Cup matches last season under former manager Roberto Mancini. During that time he kept four clean sheets, but still surrendered his place to first choice Joe Hart for the FA Cup final loss to the Latics.
Nevertheless, Pantilimon should start against Wigan this time round as City kick off their League Cup campaign.
Defence: Richards, Boyata, Lescott, Clichy
With such a short period between matches, expect City to have a completely different defence to that would offered such solid foundations for the Manchester derby.
At left back, Gael Clichy, having lost his place to Aleksandar Kolarov for the last four matches—his last appearance coming in the 3-2 defeat at Cardiff—should return, while the club's longest-serving player, Micah Richards, will make his first start of the season having recovered from a hamstring injury.
Tuesday evening would have been the ideal time for new Argentine defender Martin Demichelis, formerly of Bayern Munich and Malaga, to make his City debut, but he remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Midfield: Milner, Garcia, Rodwell, Silva
Again, expect City to be all change in the midfield areas following the tremendous amount of work undertaken by Messrs. Navas, Toure, Nasri and Fernandinho on Sunday.
As such, the two holding midfield spots should see Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, both of whom started in the recent league match at Stoke City, given the nod.
Additionally, the industrious and reliable James Milner, having made one start and four substitute appearances already this season, will play from the right.
On the left, Spanish international playmaker David Silva, having struggled with a thigh injury and just missing out on the squad for the Manchester derby, is likely to complete City's midfield following three matches on the sidelines.
On the substitutes' bench, look out for the highly-rated Portuguese under-19 international Marcos Lopes, who scored twice in the first match of the UEFA Youth League last midweek as City swept aside Viktoria Plzen, 4-1.
Forward: Jovetic, Dzeko
Sergio Aguero helped himself to two goals and Alvaro Negredo was a handful during City's win over their neighbours, and the duo are increasingly beginning to look like Pellegrini's first-choice strike pairing.
Nevertheless, Edin Dzeko and summer signing Stevan Jovetic will both get the chance to stake their claim as City look for revenge following May's FA Cup final loss.
Bosnian striker Dzeko has found himself on the substitutes' bench for both of City's last two Premier League encounters—having started the previous three matches—but did score in the Champions League last week in the 3-0 win over Viktoria Plzen.
Jovetic, the 23-year-old Montenegrin international who joined from Fiorentina during the summer, has yet to get his City career up and running, with only a 62-minute showing against Stoke City to show for his efforts so far.
John Guidetti, the young Swede who enjoyed an outstanding season on loan at Dutch club Feyenoord in 2011-12 but has struggled with injuries and illness since returning to City, should be on the bench.
In terms of formation, don't expect any drastic changes from Manuel Pellegrini for the League Cup clash.
The two banks of four when defending will be replicated once more, and the two holding midfielders will continue to protect and serve the ball forwards.
Expect James Milner to take over the role of Jesus Navas, keeping width out wide on the right and looking to isolate the opposing left-back.
On the opposite flank, the wanderings of David Silva into central areas and counter movement from nominal support striker Stevan Jovetic, from the centre to the left, will continue to be encouraged—ala Samir Nasri and Aguero in recent games—so as to continue disrupting opposing defensive schemes while retaining balance in City's attacking play. Edin Dzeko will of course lead the line.
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