By OKELLO ALLAN
ManCity Line Up
XI | Ederson, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (C), Bernardo, Foden, Haaland, Grealish SUBS | Ortega Moreno, Carson, Walker, Ake, Gundogan, Alvarez, Gomez, Mahrez, Palmer
Norwegian sensation Haaland will become the first player ever to score in their first four away games in the competition if he finds the net.
Bruno Lage’s side will be hoping to build on their first win of the season against Southampton last time out and make it back-to-back home victories.
They will have a tough task as they face Pep Guardiola’s team who haven’t lost in 21 consecutive away games and won 5-1 in this fixture in May.
Pep Guardiola has launched a public defence of Jack Grealish.
The England forward has struggled for goals and assists since his record-breaking £100million move to City from Aston Villa in 2021.
The Spaniard said on Friday: “Last game, in the final third, he was the only one up front who makes aggressive runs one against one, but to make assists he didn’t have his mates in the box so we left him isolated.
“When he goes against the full-back, only Erling was there. Gundo was not there, Kevin was not there and they should be.
“In the first-half especially with the ball we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball and give him more possibilities to make it easier.
“I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing. Now it’s just a question of time to get back a little bit his momentum he had at the beginning of the season.”
Guardiola added: “We didn’t sign for the incredible goals or assists at Aston Villa.
“It was another reason and when he played he did it. I want [him] to make goals and assists and he does too.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones.”
However, ex-Republic of Ireland striker Cascarino insists Guardiola will be disappointed with Grealish’s numbers in private.
“At £100m, a British record fee, the scrutiny is at the very highest level – and Jack is falling short,” Cascarino said on talkSPORT.
“He still hasn’t guaranteed himself in the England team. He’s played in a title-winning team and Gareth still hasn’t been convinced to start him as one of his main men.
“I don’t think he is one of Pep’s main men like [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Erling] Haaland. He doesn’t feel like that with Jack.”
Cascarino continued: “Pep is defending his player, but if you ask him privately I bet he’d say he’s a little disappointed in Jack.
“You would be. He’s had a year in a title-winning team and he’s got low numbers. You can’t have low numbers.”