MX23RW : Wednesday, August 12 02:53:46| >> :120:17093:17093:
Jul 20, 2019 at 12.30pm UK at Molineux
WolvesWolverhampton Wanderers
Man CityManchester City
Wolves win 3-2 on penalties

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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League Asia Trophy final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Just in case they needed to practice their trophy-lifting following last season's treble, Manchester City have the chance to pick up pre-season silverware when they face top-flight dark horses Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy.

The clash between Premier League sides takes place at the Hongkou Football Stadium - a 33,000-capacity stadium that usually hosts Shanghai Greenland Shenhua and is home to squash courts and a climbing wall.

Wolves arrive looking to add to their trophy cabinet for the first time in almost 40 years, although Nuno Espirito Santo and Pep Guardiola will be more interested in how their players adapt to the conditions, as well as the continuing development of younger members of their squads.


Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo recounts the scoreline on May 12, 2019© Reuters

Wolves have not won a cup since their League Cup victory in 1980, so Nuno and his players will be hoping City have an off day when they take the spirit of the Black Country to Shanghai.

Not content with the prospect of travelling to their opening Europa League fixture next week, Wolves are in Asia as part of a four-team tournament in which they saw off then-managerless Newcastle United in their opening match.

They booked their place in the final with a comprehensive 4-0 victory that saw Diogo Jota at the double, accompanied by an own-goal and a strike by 19-year-old Morgan Gibbs-White in Nanjing.

Usually a midfielder, Gibbs-White was praised for his versatility by Nuno after being deployed in attack against the Magpies.

After their drubbing of Newcastle, the early signs look promising for Wolves as they look to build on their surprise seventh-placed finish and avoid the slump often known as second-season syndrome in the Premier League.

Nuno will be all too aware that City are capable of turning the screw even on relatively dangerous opponents. The canny coach will see warning signs in City's brutal 6-0 FA Cup final victory over Watford, who edged past Wolves 3-2 in a dramatic semi-final at Wembley.

The Wolves boss has spoken of the advantages of playing in tough conditions in China, where acute humidity has tested his players' ability to remain organised, maintain their shape and retain possession under pressure.

His travelling players have been recuperating in ice baths, rehydrating and replenishing their energy after temperatures forced them to slow their usual tempo in a bid to use their energy more efficiently against Newcastle.

Wolves have also launched a high-end fashion line while they have been in Shanghai.

Recent form: W

Man City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola watches on before the FA Cup final against Watford on May 18, 2019© Reuters

Despite seeing Mark Noble score the opening goal for their opponents, City also made a convincing start to the mini-tournament by beating West Ham United 4-1.

In a sight familiar to most fans whose teams have taken on City in the top flight, the champions shifted through the gears to comfortably see off the Hammers in Nanjing.

Captain David Silva equalised just after the half-hour mark with a typically cool combination of precise control and finishing, and Lukas Nmecha won and converted a penalty two minutes later.

England striker Raheem Sterling then added a third in the second half and completed the win in the 72nd minute.

City have taken the opportunity to take part in a raft of commercial activities while they are based in Shanghai, including the launch of their new yellow and peach third kit.

On the field, meanwhile, Guardiola has been seen urging his team to maintain strict discipline and a firm defensive line in their own half while working as inventively as possible to improve their expansive attacking approach in opposition territory.

Speaking to reporters after the win over West Ham, Guardiola described the ultra-humid conditions as "surreal" and admitted that conserving energy is vital at this stage of the pre-season.

Despite many of his players being unable to run during the second half, the City boss was pleased to see fewer post-interval mistakes being made and encouraged by the predictably potent impact made by Sterling following his introduction.

Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions):

Team News

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane scores against Cardiff on April 3, 2019© Reuters

Manchester City are without a raft of high-profile names as their campaign in China continues.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Nicolas Otamendi, Ederson and Fernandinho are all absent after featuring in the Copa America.

Guardiola will have watched with interest as Riyad Mahrez scored a spectacular 95th-minute free kick to send Algeria through to the AFCON final, where his national team will play Senegal.

New midfielder Rodri, who has just signed for £63m from Atletico Madrid, made a low-key debut against West Ham.

Tommy Doyle, the 17-year-old grandson of City legends Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe, also impressed in midfield in the opening match, although Guardiola singled out Leroy Sane's appearance from the bench as his standout performance.

Wolves used their encounter with Newcastle to give several young talents greater experience of senior football.

Gibbs-White was part of the England squad at the Euro Under-21s this summer, having made 26 Premier League appearances last season.

Other newcomers included midfielder Taylor Perry, an 18-year-old local lad, and Hong Wan, who captained Yeovil Town's under-18s side before joining Wolves in May.

Debutant Wan is a midfielder who has been part of Wolves' under-23s set-up.

Wolves possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Traore, Bennett, Coady, Boly; Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker; Gibbs-White, Jota

Man City possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Danilo, Harwood-Bellis, Laporte, Angelino; Doyle, Rodrigo; Silva; Bernabe, Nmecha, Poveda-Ocampo

Head To Head

History might count for little given City's current dominance and the intense conditions in Shanghai, but this has still been a neck-and-neck rivalry stretching back 120 years.

Wolves' draw against City at Molineux in August was particularly memorable for the home side.

In only their second home match back in the Premier League, which they had been relegated from when City beat them 2-0 on the same stage in April 2012, Wolves took the lead through Willy Boly before Aymeric Laporte found an equaliser with little more than 20 minutes remaining.

That result aside, City have won their last six against Wolves, with their last defeat a 2-1 away loss in 2010.

Long before their current era of riches, City went 16 matches without a win against Wolves in the top flight between 1955 and 1962.

Wolves have only scored once against City in their last four meetings but have held Guardiola's side to a draw in two of those matches.

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We say: Wolves 1-3 Man City

City's abundance of quality is only likely to become more apparent as their pre-season preparations intensify. Wolves are never a pushover, but the resistance they offer may not be strengthened by the inclusion of more debutants.

Wherever friendlies are held at this time of year, conditions tend to be something of a leveller. In the fierce heat, City could hold off from their usual unwavering commitment to spreading the ball wide and attacking at speed.

Guardiola's pre-match quotes suggest his competitive focus is on the Community Shield against Liverpool on August 4. Nevertheless, it is hard to see beyond a City victory.


Who will win the Premier League Asia Trophy?

Man City
Man City
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Manchester City winger Leroy Sane in action during the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 14, 2019
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2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd381412123939054
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921

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