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Manchester City predicted XI v Hull City

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Manchester City take on Premier League strugglers Hull City on Saturday, desperate to claim a first league win since the 3-2 victory over Sunderland on New Year's Day.

Manuel Pellegrini's men go in to the game on the back of a tough run of fixtures that saw them welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium inbetween difficult trips to Everton and Chelsea.

The Premier League champions took just two points from a possible nine, allowing Chelsea to move eight points clear in the title race in the process.

Maximum points needed

While there's no shame in a 1-1 draw at leaders Chelsea, Pellegrini is well aware that nothing less than three points will be acceptable against Steve Bruce's 18th-placed side.

Hull, like City, haven't won since New Years Day, but whereas Pellegrini's men can look back on 14 Premier League victories so far this campaign, Bruce's side have just four.

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With all signs pointing towards a home win, Pellegrini must decide whether to stick with the same 11 who were unfortunate not to claim victory at Stamford Bridge last weekend, or to shuffle his pack with a tricky visit to Stoke looming in mid-week.

Bony still waiting

One thing that continues to be out of the hands of Pellegini is when he can present new signing Wilfried Bony with his Manchester City debut.

The striker continues to be unavailable after he and City teammate Yaya Toure helped the Ivory Coast reach the final of the African Cup of Nations.

That means Sergio Aguero will continue up front, with Edin Dzeko his probably partner should Pellegrini revert to the 442 formations he favoured at the start of the campaign.

Stevan Jovetic had started the season in the first-team, but having been axed from City's Champions League squad it seems unlikely that he'll feature much more between now and the end of the season.

Could Lampard start?

The absence of the Ivorian pair could present loan man Frank Lampard with a rare Premier League start, although Brazilian duo Fernando and Fernandinho seem to have made the central midfield positions their own in recent weeks.

However, Pellegrini could opt to introduce Lampard to the mix given that the aforementioned duo are both more defensively minded, whereas Lampard possesses the attacking class needed to breakdown what is likely to be a packed Hull defence.

Another attacking option is the fit again Samir Nasri, who could replace either James Milner or Jesus Navas, depending on Pellegrini's intended style of play.

Navas offers blistering pace, Milner provides endless energy but Nasri is capable of unlocking a tight defence with clever passes that his midfield colleagues wouldn't dream of.

Building from the back

A major bone of contention amongst City fans this season has been the centre back position.

Vincent Kompany, when fit, is a certain starter in the heart of the defence, but even he has struggled for form during an injury hit campaign.

Alongside him Pellegrini has a straight choice between the power of Eliaquim Mangala and the experience of Martin Demichelis.

It was Mangala who started the reverse picture, but he looked frighteningly off the pace as City laboured to a 4-2 victory.

The mid-week trip to Stoke is likely to be more suited to the Frenchman's bruising style, and so Demichelis could get the nod against Hull.

At full-back, Gael Clichy has been first choice on the left while Bacary Sagna has provided competition for Pablo Zabaleta on the right.

It was Sagna who got the shirt against Chelsea, but expect the more adventurous Zabaleta to return to the side this weekend.

In goal Joe Hart will continue to keep his place, with the reverse fixture being Willy Caballero's only Premier League outing since signing from Malaga in the summer.

Predicted XI

Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Navas, Fernando, Lampard, Nasri; Silva; Aguero

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
Premier League
Hull City

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