Manchester City are set to face Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday in what looks set to be a mere formality for the Premier League Champions.
With Albion boss Nigel Clough all but conceding that tomorrow night’s game is more about damage limitation for the Brewers than anything else, Pep Guardiola’s side can expect another round of “attack vs defence” in front of what is likely to be a near 7000 strong crowd.
When these sides met at the Etihad back on January 10, City romped to a ruthless victory, sinking nine goals without reply past their beleaguered opponents, with Gabriel Jesus netting four of those.
Clough looks to take advantage of youthful City team
Amid speculation that Guardiola is set to opt for a largely inexperienced lineup, Brewers’ boss Clough told the club website in his pre-match press conference that he would look to combat that by fielding experienced campaigners.
“We’d be playing youngsters.” stated the former Liverpool and City ace. “We might put some experience out there against Manchester City, we’ll see."
Clough has made no secret of his desire to register at least once against City at home, describing “little milestones and pride” as his main objectives.
“If we could get a goal then that would be a wonderful achievement. If one of our players could score against one of the best teams in Europe then it would be a milestone for us."
If Clough is to pull off a shock against their gargantuan opponents, he might need to do it without winger Scott Fraser, who picked up a knock against Doncaster at the weekend, and Jamie Allen, who is nursing an ankle injury.
Burton Albion Predicted XI: Collins; Brayford, Buxton, Turner, Hutchinson; Harness, Quinn, Wallace, Atkins, Templeton; Boyce.
City set for rotation as Pep looks to the academy
Carrying a 9-0 lead from the first leg, this game is essentially a dead rubber, presenting an opportunity for Manchester City’s many fringe players to make a name for themselves.
Benjamin Mendy is back in City training and the Frenchman looks set to make his return to action, having been out since November.
“Benjamin is in the squad, he will travel with us”, said Guardiola of the left back. “Maybe on the bench."
Guardiola has confirmed that Kevin De Bruyne will start in midfield alongside 18-year-old Phil Foden, while a slew of youngsters, such as Taylor Richards, Iker Pozo, Felix Nmecha and Ian Carlo Poveda will look to make their first appearances of the season. Aro Muric will start in goal for City, while teenager Eric Garcia keeps his place in central defence.
Claudio Bravo remains the only player unavailable as he recuperates from an Achilles injury suffered in August. Aside from him, City have no fresh injury concerns.
Man City Predicted XI: Muric; Bolton, Garcia, Sandler, Zinchenko; Richards, De Bruyne, Foden; Mahrez, Jesus, Nmecha.
With Clough admitting that the Pirelli Stadium is unlikely to witness a team with as much quality as City ever again, he looks set to send his players out with one goal: to relish the moment and leave it all on the pitch.