Manchester City predicted XI vs West Brom

Lampard hasn't started a league game in over three months. (©GettyImages)

Manchester City's midweek defeat to Barcelona has done much more than eliminate them from the Champions League - it made overhauling Chelsea at the top of the Premier League a necessity.

Manuel Pellegrini's team claimed a Premier League and League Cup double in the Chilean's debut season in England, but this campaign looks increasingly likely to end trophyless, unless of course they can catch Jose Mourinho's men.

City currently sit six points behind the Blues, who have one game in hand, and their attempt to overtake them begins on Saturday lunchtime when West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium.

Following the midweek loss in which City found themselves chasing shadows for large periods of the game, Pellegrini must now decide whether to make wholesale changes to his starting 11, or to persist with the men he entrusted to beat Barcelona.

Wednesday's team couldn't get the job done and few players finished the game proud in the knowledge their personal performance was good enough for a must win Champions League knockout fixture.

One exception to that is England goalkeeper Joe Hart who produced one of the best displays of his career, and perhaps the most impressive goalkeeping performance you're likely to see this season.


Hart himself acknowledged City's strength in depth after the Barca defeat, and suggested his boss could be about to make changes, telling the Manchester Evenings News: "We have a lot of tired legs tonight but we have players to come in. They are good players. They can freshen us up. I think we have what we need.”

Who drops out?

Should those players Hart spoke of come in to the starting line up Pellegrini will have to decide who to leave out, and very few players are safe.

City's back four have been inconsistent at best this season, and any one of Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis and Aleksandar Kolarov could find themselves benched on Saturday.

Samir Nasri's half-time withdrawal at the Camp Nou suggests he could make way in midfield, while Fernandinho and James Milner will likely be sweating over their place in the team.

Even top scorer Sergio Aguero could find his place under threat following his penalty miss in midweek, and both Edin Dzeko and Wilfried Bony will be hoping to return to the team, while Stevan Jovetic will be asking if he'll ever get another chance to prove himself to Pellegrini.

Fresh faces

Of those hoping to be introduced to the starting eleven, Frank Lampard is perhaps most deserving given his displays when called upon this season.

The ex-Chelsea legend hasn't started a league game since mid-December but will be confident of doing a better job than Brazilian duo Fernandinho and Fernando, neither of whom have nailed down a place alongside Yaya Toure this season.

Jesus Navas is another who could make the step up from the bench and is the most logical replacement should Nasri be dropped.


At the back both Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy are proven Premier League defenders worthy of a return to starting duty, while Eliaquim Mangala will be desperate for another chance to justify his £32million price tag.

Predicted Line Up:

Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Navas, Toure, Lampard, Silva; Aguero, Dzeko

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