Manchester City v Middlesbrough Preview: Two recently improved sides meet at the Etihad

Following a stellar performance in Europe this week, Manchester City welcome Aitor Karanka's men to the Etihad.

Manchester City v Middlesbrough Preview: Two recently improved sides meet at the Etihad
Pep Guardiola's side face newly promoted 'Boro | Photo: Getty images

Crisis? What crisis?! After a more than disappointing October, Manchester City really have found their rhythm once again following a 4-0 victory away to West Bromwich Albion but most notably their sumptuous 3-1 victory against FC Barcelona. 

So with this in mind, can City start to open a lead at the top of the Premier League? 

Last time out

City got back to winning ways last Saturday following a convincing 0-4 battering of West Bromich Albion. The Baggies couldn't contain Sergio Aguero as the Argentine added two goals to his season tally, his second a particularly special one, a pile driving shot that buried itself in the top right corner. 

Ilkay Gundogan soon got in on the act with the German picking up a brace of his own as his season continues from strength to strength.

Meanwhile on Teeside, Middlesbrough put in a competent and workmanlike performance as they saw off Eddie Howe's Bournemouth, 2-0, with Gaston Ramirez' solo goal the pick of the bunch.

Team News

Manchester City 

The big news this week is that Yaya Touré has finally released a statement apologising for the recent saga that has kept him out of the side since the season began, though it may rumble on further as Touré's agent, Dimitri Selcuk announced he had nothing to apologise for. 

Bacary Sagna is expected to return to the fray following the upcoming international break. Fabian Delph is reportedly 'happy' following recent surgery but a date hasn't been estimated for his return. Vincent Kompany playing a full 90 minutes is a "Possibility."

Middlesbrough

Both Cristhian Stuani and Marten de Roon are set to make a return this week, whilst Dani Ayala and Gaston Ramirez will be absent through injury and suspension respectively.

What they're saying? 

Pep Guardiola recognises what a mammoth feat it was to beat Barcelona earlier this week and in the fashion they did, saying: "It’s good to beat the best team (Barcelona) in the world. I know how difficult it is. To beat them, they demand to achieve another level with our game.

Fellow Spaniard and Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka knows full well about Guardiola's ability as manager, cautious but confident would describe Karanka best, saying: "We played well against Arsenal but now we have to go to the Etihad expecting a tough game as Man City are an amazing team."

Verdict 

Considering City's performances of late it is hard to see how City could lose this with the Blues really beginning to 'click' and work as a team, they should make light work of the visitors. As always though, any naivety from City, and Middlesbrough could very well come away with the point on Saturday.