Wolverhampton-Manchester City Preview
Highlighted by a scintillating victory over the Premier League leaders, Manchester City are back on track following two straight top-flight losses.
City, who are also coming off somewhat embarrassing consecutive one-sided victories outside of the top-flight, look to extend their winning streak over all competitions to five games Monday night against Wolverhampton at the Etihad.
It was back-to-back defeats, stunningly, at home to Crystal Palace and at Leicester to begin the recent festive period that left City (16-2-3) in a bit of a predicament. However, the Citizens responded with a 3-1 win at Southampton in their last match of 2018, then re-announced their presence within the top-flight by handing first-place Liverpool their first defeat of the campaign, 2-1 at the Etihad on Jan. 3.
After Roberto Firmino equalised for Liverpool in the 64h minute, Leroy Sane put City ahead in the 72nd with help from Raheem Sterling as they built some confidence in their chase of the Reds.
"(The) win (over Liverpool) was super important, particularly because it was against the leaders and we must show that we are chasing after the title," midfielder Bernardo Silva told the Citizens' official website.
"Our team has great experience. Each one of us has won and lost games and we know how to react to defeats That's why, when we're at the very top, we don't think we're the best in the world and when we're very low, we don't see that we are the worst. We can maintain a balance and a medium term and work in the same way.
"We are certainly going to give our best in order to keep the higher level."
City certainly did with a 7-0 rout of Rotherham United in the FA Cup last Sunday and an equally out-of-hand 9-0 thrashing of Burton Albion in the League Cup on Wednesday. The latter had some pundits questioning manager Pep Guardiola's decision not to call off the dogs.
"The difference in Premier League teams is the rhythm, when you have high intensity," Guardiola said. "The physicality is higher and we scored quickly. We spoke about (being ruthless) at half-time - to be simple. To score is the best way to respect the competition and the opponents."
Whilst Guardiola's definition of respect can be interpreted in other ways, he claims to have plenty for Wolves (8-5-8), who played Man City to a 1-1 draw at the Molineux on Aug. 25. Willy Boly scored in the 57th minute for the hosts, but Aymeric Laporte pulled the Citizens level 12 minutes later.
"They defend deep, switch play, control many areas," Guardiola said of Wolves. "That's why they are doing incredibly well in the Premier League."
Whilst Wolves are eying a top-half finish in the Premier League, they are 1-1-2 over the last four top-flight contests. They fell 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace on Jan. 2, but generated some momentum with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier this week.
Granted, the Reds did not put out an "A" lineup, but any victory is important.
"It's a another step in the right direction," backup keeper John Ruddy told Wolverhampton's official website. "Obviously, we've been doing well in the league and it's nice to carry that form into the cup."
Manchester City hope to have stars Sergio Aguero (illness) and Vincent Kompany (muscle) fit for this contest.
Updated January 12, 2019