Man City roster set to start against Chelsea in 2021 opener

Manchester City are heading to Stamford Bridge for their first game of 2021.

The city has been hit hard by COVID-19, with five starting players unavailable after testing positive for the coronavirus. The two well-known players, Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker, will not make an appearance, with Pep Guardiola unaware of who the other three are.

This is the Sky Blues’ first game since their 2-0 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day, meaning their available players need to be well rested and ready for the Chelsea test present.

Here’s how Guardiola should line up for the battle at the bridge.

Rúben Dias overtook Aymeric Laporte as Pep’s central defender | MARTIN RICKETT / Getty Images

Ederson (GK) – There are big question marks as to who the other three isolating players are for City, Ederson being one. Otherwise, wait for it between the sticks as usual.

John Stones (CB) – Awesome, reprized his role in Pep’s plans. Expect him to play to the right of a three-way defense again due to Kyle Walker’s absence.

Rúben Dias (CB) – The boulder at the heart of Man City’s defense this year. His transition from Benfica to the Etihad was nothing short of remarkable. First central defender on the team sheet.

Nathan Aké (CB) – He has only made his fifth starting league appearance against Newcastle but is finally given the chance to show why City spent £ 41million on him last summer.

Cancelo played a more advanced role in his last game | ALEX LIVESEY / Getty Images

João Cancelo (RM) – The Portuguese right-back was pushed into a more advanced right-midfielder role in the win over Newcastle, performing well. We will again ask to throw ourselves into the box to provide deadly crosses.

Rodri (CM) – Effectively replaced Fernandinho as Pep’s starting deep midfielder. Played in all of City’s games this season except one.

Ilkay Gundogan (LM) – The versatile German has come to life over the past two months, becoming the linchpin of Guardiola’s more defensive midfielder. His partnership with Rodri has become impenetrable.

Kevin De Bruyne (AM) – The Belgian has yet to reach the heights of last season, but still has seven assists in the league. However, more goals have to be scored, with only two catches in all competitions.

Riyad Mahrez (RW) – Has been ruled out of the squad in recent games, but with Bernardo Silva not shining on the right, the Algerian should have the option of threatening Ben Chilwell’s left flank.

Ferran Torres (ST) – The ‘calm’ summer signing of £ 20.8million has crept through Guardiola’s top three rows effortlessly since arriving from Valencia. Won every game he’s scored in, leading the City line whenever called up.

Raheem Sterling (LW) – The England international hasn’t been scintillating this season, but has performed well enough. Put back on his favorite left side, he will desperately want to increase his tally to four league goals.