Reigning champions Manchester City host a winless Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
The last time these sides met – a helter-skelter 5-2 victory for City in March – Pep Guardiola admitted that the deciding factor in a thrilling meeting was ‘the money’ his club were able to spend on the attacking talents that ultimately overpowered a well-drilled Southampton.
Six months on, City – fresh from rattling six past RB Leipzig – have added the most expensive signing in the history of English football to their roster.
Here’s the XI Guardiola may select this weekend.
Ederson (GK) – One of the few that escapes Guardiola’s rotation policy normally, the Brazilian number one has his spot even more firmly secured by Zack Steffen’s absence.
Kyle Walker (RB) – Rested in midweek, Walker’s pace should be on full display against the Saints.
John Stones (CB) – Since lining up for last season’s Champions League final, Stones has played nine times for England but is yet to get on the pitch for the club he recently signed a lengthy extension with. In the wake of their midweek win, he may sneak back into the set up.
Ruben Dias (CB) – At times last season, Guardiola seemed almost more impressed with the quantity rather than quality of matches Dias was capable of. That durability will be needed for Saturday.
Joao Cancelo (LB) – On either flank, Cancelo offers a frightening amount of creativity to rival all but one of his teammates – a certain Belgian was the only City player to carve open more chances in the Premier League last season.
Ilkay Gundogan (CM) – (Somehow) City’s top scorer last season is one of the staggering nine different players that have already found the net in the league after four games – only nine Sheffield United players scored across the entirety of the previous campaign.
Rodri (CM) – Has a firm hold on the most important position in a Guardiola team – the role the Catalan played himself back in the day – Rodri was given less than an hour on Wednesday likely with Saturday in mind.
Bernardo Silva (CM) – Following on from his first league goal since February, the previously want-away midfielder is ‘back in the best form and mentality’ according to his manager.
Gabriel Jesus (RW) – City’s number nine seems to be now permanently a wide player – a role he’s outwardly claimed to prefer and may well excel once more in against Southampton’s Premier League rookie Romain Perraud.
Ferran Torres (ST) – Trusted with the central role after a summer in which Man City failed to sign a proper striker.
Phil Foden (LW) – Following a dragging post-Euro layoff, City’s 21-year-old academy gem was given his first minutes of the campaign in midweek, and could be in line for his first start come the weekend.