When Manchester City take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, they will try to add three more points to their Premier League lead after their comeback victory in midweek.
In the meantime, the visitors are trying to keep themselves out of the relegation zone and extend their unbeaten home run in the top flight to four games.
After losing to Southampton and Manchester United last week, it seems impossible for a team led by Pep Guardiola to lose three games in a row. However, on Thursday night, when Man City played Tottenham Hotspur, they were down 2-0 at halftime.
However, the Citizens came back like true champions, scoring goals from Julian Alvarez, Erling Braut Haaland, and Riyad Mahrez within the first 12 minutes of the second half to turn the game around. Mahrez then scored a fourth goal in extra time to secure the victory.
After the game, Guardiola launched a scathing attack on his players and fans, expressing his frustration with their lack of “passion” and “fire.” He believes that City will lose more points if they fail to perform at the required level, despite the fact that the victory has brought them within five points of leaders Arsenal.
The Citizens will play three of their next four games in front of their own fans, including Sunday’s match against Wolves, a team they have defeated in each of their last five league meetings, scoring 16 goals and allowing only three.
A win on Sunday would allow City to close the gap on Arsenal to just two points before Mikel Arteta’s team plays Man United later that day, making the matchup with Wolves a favourable one on paper in the short term. Other potential matches against Arsenal and Spurs are also on the horizon.
In their FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday night, Wolves were defeated by the same scoreline in front of their own fans as they were last weekend when they defeated West Ham United, another contender in the Premier League.
Julen Lopetegui believes that his team deserved better from their midweek matchup with the Reds, but Harvey Elliott’s goal in the first half was enough to put the West Midlands team out of reach at the first hurdle.
Despite the fact that many Wolves fans would have preferred a cup run, the defeat may actually be a blessing in disguise for the club because it means they can now fully concentrate on their fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Lopetegui’s team is in 16th place at the halfway point, just two points ahead of the bottom three.
Wolves are still the Premier League’s lowest scorers this season, with just 12 goals, but they appear to have turned the corner under Lopetegui, who brought them seven points out of a possible 12 since taking over in November.
Even though Wolves are underdogs going into Sunday’s game, they will be looking to repeat their feat from October 2019, when they beat Man City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium. This was their only win in their last ten all-competitive encounters with Man City.
The only injury concern for Man City is right defender Rico Lewis, who left the match against Spurs in the final minutes with a minor ankle injury; In the first XI, the 18-year-old could be replaced by Kyle Walker.
John Stones and Ruben Dias, both centre backs, were able to play some on Thursday despite their respective hamstring issues and fitness issues. They will be in line to start against Wolves, as will Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte, and Nathan Ake. However, Nathan Ake may keep his place ahead of Joao Cancelo at left back.
Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, and Kalvin Phillips will also be trying to start after starting on the bench against Spurs, and Kevin De Bruyne, who missed Tuesday’s training session for personal reasons, will likely return to the starting lineup.
On Thursday, Alvarez and Mahrez made an impression in the attack during the second half, and both of them may continue to play alongside Haaland, who has scored 15 of his 22 Premier League goals at the Etihad this season.
Diego Costa, 34, was able to play against Liverpool off the bench after recovering from a knock. Along with Raul Jimenez, Matheus Cunha, and Hwang Hee-chan, he will be competing for the starting position in the attack.
However, injuries continue to keep Sasa Kalajdzic (ACL), Pedro Neto (ankle), Boubacar Traore (groin), Chiquinho (knee), and Sasa Kalajdzic (ACL) out of the game.
Lopetegui is expected to stick with the same team that beat West Ham last weekend. In defence, Nelson Semedo, Max Kilman, and Hugo Bueno will all be back, and Matheus Nunes, an attacker, and Daniel Podence, a midfielder, could return to the first team.
Mario Lemina and Pablo Sarabia, both of whom signed permanent deals with Wolves earlier this week, could make their Wolves debut at the Etihad, while Goncalo Guedes has left the team to sign a loan deal with Benfica for the rest of the season.
A possible starting lineup for Manchester City:
Ederson; Dias, Ake, Walker, and Stones Rodri, Bernardo, and De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, and Alvarez for the Wolverhampton Wanderers:
Sa; Collins, Semedo, Kilman, and Bueno; Nunes, Neves, and Lemina; Hwang, Cunha, and Podence
Man City vs. Wolves Prediction
Everything at City right now is a little chaotic, and you never know if you’ll get the first-half performance against Spurs or the second-half performance. In addition, there is a very strange atmosphere following Pep Guardiola’s remarks at the final whistle on Thursday night.
The fact that City played so much more recently than Wolves does play a role, but given their depth, they should be fine for fitness.
Under Lopetegui, Wolves are undoubtedly putting in much better performances than they did before, and they are unlikely to surrender to City on Sunday. Over the course of the ninety minutes, however, the Citizens will undoubtedly possess more than Wolves.
Prediction: Wolves win 3-1 Man City