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Preview: Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League fixture between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manchester City play host to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon looking to keep the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the standings.

Wolves travel to the Etihad Stadium having put together a run of four matches without defeat in all competitions, although their meeting with the champions comes less than 72 hours after facing Besiktas in Turkey.

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola pictured during Manchester City's Premier League clash with West Ham on August 10, 2019© Reuters

After dropping five points from their opening five matches, a lot of questions were raised about Man City's capabilities this season, with most focused on notable mistakes being made at the back.

However, despite the absence of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, City have responded with four clean sheets from five outings, a record which suggests that they are currently coping without their first-choice centre-backs.

Whether that continues remains to be seen but at a time when there were concerns regarding the character and desire of the champions, they upped their level, and a warning has been sent to Liverpool.

The defeat to Norwich City and the subsequent upturn in form has coincided with Liverpool having to fight harder to maintain their 100% record, arguably an indication that they feel that City are an even bigger threat now that any complacency has disappeared.

Guardiola and his squad have spent the majority of 2019 either leading the pack in the Premier League or being fancied to break their duck in Champions League, but they are now relishing the opportunity to hunt down their rivals.

Coming through the Everton game with maximum points would have given Guardiola great satisfaction, especially with his players needing to be ruthless in the final third when being held by the Toffees heading into the closing stages.

City also had to show plenty of patience in order to eventually overcome Dinamo Zagreb in midweek, with the deadlock not being broken until the introduction of Raheem Sterling from the bench.

The persistence of his team would have impressed Guardiola, and they now face a run of matches in the league which should set them up for the mouth-watering showdown with Liverpool at Anfield on November 10.

Recent form: DWWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWW

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo on September 28, 2019© Reuters

There is an argument that the Europa League will take away something from Wolves' efforts on the domestic front this season, but the flip side to that is that the club would not be experiencing matches like the one in Turkey on Thursday night had they not been attempting to make the most of their time on the continent.

Wolves were far from their best against Besiktas, something which Nuno Espirito Santo alluded to after the match, but Willy Boly's dramatic 93rd-minute winner provided the club with a shot of adrenaline at the right time.

While Wolves are now four games unbeaten, they have come nowhere near to replicating their performances from last season, with many players perhaps still adapting to having fewer rest periods inbetween matches.

Nevertheless, the victory over Watford last weekend and coming out on the right end of a battle with one of Turkey's biggest clubs on away territory has effectively lifted any pressure ahead of the trip to Man City.

Given the travel and short turnaround, Nuno will be realistic with his expectations ahead of meeting the champions, especially when considering that City have had an extra 48 hours to prepare after a home European match.

That said, Nuno will demand that whoever is selected on Sunday maintains the work-rate from the previous games, regardless of their more illustrious opponents being the fresher of the two teams.

Wolves will have to improve in the final third to get anything from this contest, with just five goals coming from their last five outings in all competitions.

However, just two have been conceded in four matches, and the West Midlands outfit will have to show the same kind of discipline to have the best chance of nullifying a team of City's quality.

Recent form: DDLLDW
Recent form (all competitions): LLDDWW

Team News

Kevin De Bruyne in action during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on August 17, 2019© Reuters

While Kevin De Bruyne is close to returning from a groin injury, Guardiola has said that the Belgian will not be ready to feature at the weekend.

Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva could partner Rodri in central midfield, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko should return to the team in place of Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Mendy respectively.

Riyad Mahrez may get the nod over Bernardo Silva on the right flank, with Gabriel Jesus in line to replace Sergio Aguero, who played the majority of the game against Zagreb.

Wolves are unlikely to take any risks with Diogo Jota's foot injury, leaving Adama Traore in line to partner Raul Jimenez in attack.

While Nuno would prefer to keep the same back three after two shutouts in a row, the match on Thursday could lead to Romain Saiss being moved into midfield and Joao Moutinho dropping down to the bench.

That would likely result in a recall for Ryan Bennett, while Ruben Vinagre may be involved at left wing-back having remained as an unused substitute against Besiktas.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Rodri, Gundogan, D.Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Saiss, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez

Head To Head

Sunday's meeting will represent the 120th competitive encounter between the two clubs, with City winning 48 times in comparison to 46 victories for Wolves.

The visitors will take confidence from their recent clashes with City, having held Guardiola's team to a draw in two of their last three matches in all competitions.

However, while Wolves also edged out City in a penalty shootout in July's Premier League Asia Trophy, the North-West side eased to a 3-0 success in last season's corresponding fixture in January.

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We say: Manchester City 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Facing Man City at the Etihad Stadium could not have come at a worse time for Wolves. Given the travel involved this week and the short turnaround, it would be a surprise if City do not win this fixture without needing to reach top gear.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers?

Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their third goal on August 31, 2019
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