Nuno speaks: “Manchester City are an outstanding team with outstanding players. Let’s not forget that we have to play. We have to play. They are a very good team and they will test us.” It doesn’t sound like Wolves are going to sit back does it? This could be very entertaining.
I’m watching highlights of Kevin De Bruyne. The incredible thing about him is that whenever he shoots, if he misses, it is only by inches. You never see him sky a shot or wildly overhit a pass. Everything is measured. If he’s off target the likelihood is that one of his shots or passes will still cause the opposition an awful lot of trouble.
Pep Guardiola speaks: “Wolves’ consistency for two seasons is incredible,” he says. Of trying to stop Adama Traore he has this to say: “It’s impossible. You need a motorcycle. He has a pace that no other player in the world has.” On the subject of fast-tracking Aguero back into the starting lineup after injury, he says he didn’t have a choice as to whether he should play him or not. “Jesus was sick.”
Adama Traore’s great fun isn’t he? He plays football at a million miles an hour. Every dribble is like a thrash-metal solo.
There’s a nice interview with Nuno playing on Amazon at the moment. He credits his managerial nous to being a reserve goalkeeper for such a long time. He says he learned “bench experience” sat on the sidelines watching managers make mistakes. Carlo Nash should be a modern-day Shankly if this is true.
In case you’re wondering why Gabriel Jesus is missing from City’s squad, he’s ill. That’s why you should get your winter flu jab, folks!
Harry Redknapp believes Liverpool ended City’s title hopes last night. Is that true? It’s staggering to even be talking about the title race being over before we’ve entered the new year. If there’s one team that can put a run of wins together long enough to close the gap and make it interesting it’s City. But Liverpool have taken 79 points from a possible 81 going back to last season. That’s ludicrous really.
Is Guardiola taking a risk starting Agüero tonight? As good as he is, he’s been out for the best part of five weeks. He does tend to pick up recurring injuries. Mind you, if he’s only 90% fit he will still be lethal given half a chance.
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota. Subs: Vallejo, Bennett, Pedro Neto, Cutrone, Ruddy, Ruben Vinagre, Kilman.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy, De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling. Subs: Bravo, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Jose Angelino, Joao Cancelo, Foden, Garcia.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Predicting lineups at this stage of the season can be tricky but at least the two players I mentioned in my preamble are starting. I’ll take that. They are two very strong starting XIs.
Hello! The feast of festive football continues, readers – and this evening’s game could be a Christmas cracker. Wolves’s pace on the counterattack led to a surprise 2-0 win at the Etihad in October as City’s defence produced a showreel of errors and uncertainty whenever the visiting team attacked. Adama Traoré scored both of Wolves’ goals and since then he has had a target on his back, with teams using rotational filth to limit the winger’s impact. Will City follow suit? They’re not shy of a tactical foul or two are they?
Manchester City can’t afford to drop any more points if they are to have any hope of reeling in Liverpool but with Kevin De Bruyne starting to hit top gear City are likely to improve in the second half of the season. If he can bring his brand of outrageous footballing geometry to the table this evening, one expects Wolves will ship a goal or two. Despite City playing some exquisite football as they beat Leicester last time out, Pep Guardiola has been in a bit of a grump in the buildup to this game. “I wrote a letter to the Premier League to say thank you [for the fixture congestion],” he deadpanned. “We are going to the fridge after Wolves to get ready for Sheffield United.”
City play two games in less than 48 hours but Wolves have it even worse. They play Liverpool – at Anfield – only 44 hours and 45 minutes after the final whistle blows this evening. That may be one reason Pep is miffed. His side will face a fresher Wolves team and Nuno Espírito Santo might fancy picking up points in this match more than the next one – which could make for some wild entertainment.
Kick-off: 7.45pm GMT.