Manchester City will name their strongest XI for their first game of the 2018/19 Premier League season away at Arsenal on Sunday.
City experienced a disjointed pre-seaosn campaign with several key stars returning late from their holidays after the World Cup.
However, the full squad is now back in training and last weekend’s 2-0 victory in the Community Shield suggests Pep Guardiola’s men will be in a menacing mood from the start.
Kevin De Bruyne missed out on the clash, but he is fully expected to start against the Gunners at the Emirates.
The Belgian midfielder endured a tough time at Russia 2018 as he was forced to play a deeper role in Roberto Martinez’s starting XI.
Guardiola will restore De Bruyne to his favoured role with licence to attack, and he could start alongside Bernardo Silva as opposed to David Silva.
Bernardo has strongly impressed throughout pre-season with Guardiola stating he is a guaranteed starter for City.
Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez are expected to start on either flank despite Raheem Sterling returning from England duty in ‘perfect’ condition according to the City boss.
Sergio Aguero will continue to lead the line despite Gabriel Jesus’ persistence in pushing for a run in the first team.
The Argentinian striker scored twice at Wembley against Chelsea, proving he still has the sharpness to be City’s main man at the start of the new campaign.
In defence, Benjamin Mendy returned early from his holiday in order to be ready following a lengthy injury that cut his debut season short.
Kyle Walker will start at right-back while John Stones looks certain to start in defence.
Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi will battle for the final spot in the starting XI, with the former leading the race after starting last weekend.
Guardiola will anticipate a tough test against Unai Emery’s Gunners, but he will also be keen to shake off any early-season nerves with a convincing victory in north London.
Predicted Manchester City line-up against Arsenal:
(4-1-4-1) Ederson; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy; Fernandinho; Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane; Sergio Aguero.