MX23RW : Saturday, September 25 18:10:07| >> :120:11280:11280:
Dec 27, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Molineux
Attendance: 31,737
WolvesWolverhampton Wanderers
Man CityManchester City
Traore (55'), Jimenez (82'), Doherty (89')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Sterling (25', 50')

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

Sports Mole previews Friday's Premier League showdown between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Wolverhampton Wanderers welcome Manchester City to Molineux on Friday looking to do the double over the champions.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side dealt a major blow to Man City's hopes of retaining the title with a shock victory at the Etihad Stadium in October, and Pep Guardiola's men will no doubt be out for revenge as they look to close the gap on the two teams above them in the table.

Match preview

Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Manchester United on December 7, 2019© Reuters

It could prove to be a blue Christmas for the kings of English football if results go Manchester City's way this week, having already secured a crucial victory over second-placed Leicester City on Saturday.

The top two face off in a Boxing Day blockbuster at the King Power Stadium, after which Man City will know whether they have the chance to overhaul Leicester, close the gap on Liverpool or both.

Of course, even a Liverpool defeat coupled with a Man City win would still leave an eight-point deficit to make up, but Guardiola's side recovered from a similar position at the turn of the year last season and so belief would just start to grow again should that double-header occur.

The champions have the luxury of sitting back and watching while the two teams above them duke it out a day before they play, although that does impact the fixture schedule beyond that as City face three games in the space of six days.

It is not an easy trio of fixtures either, with high-flying Sheffield United next up after Wolves and then a New Year's Day meeting with an Everton side sure to be boosted by the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout.

Kevin De Bruyne scores for Man City on November 30, 2019© Reuters

Wolves themselves could prove to be the toughest of the lot, having already beaten Man City at the Etihad this season on what was another pivotal weekend at the top, with Liverpool beating Leicester City late on a day before that.

Should a repeat of those results happen then City would be back to 14 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp's side having played a game more, making Friday's tricky trip another must-win fixture for their title hopes.

The two-time defending champions do seem to be back in good form, though, winning four consecutive matches across all competitions since their derby defeat to Manchester United, including back-to-back impressive league triumphs over Arsenal and Leicester.

Man City have only won three consecutive league games on one previous occasion this season, though, which is a wildly inconsistent run of form for a team that won their final 14 games of 2018-19.

Guardiola's side are, however, unbeaten in their last five away outings across all competitions, including victories in each of their last four while scoring 14 goals.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adama Traore scores their first goal against Manchester City on October 6, 2019© Reuters

Wolves will know exactly how difficult their task is having engineered a smash-and-grab victory in the reverse, seeing just 24% of the ball but scoring with both of their shots on target.

It was ultimately Adama Traore's pace on the counter-attack that undid Man City - a problem they have had in all of their defeats this season - but Nuno will be aware that Man City's own tally of two shots on target when boasting 76% of the ball is a very rare occurrence.

An exact repeat of October's contest is unlikely, then, but Wolves still have plenty of cause for optimism ahead of the game, not least given the difference in league position since these two last met.

Nuno's side had only just picked up their first win of the campaign in the previous match before beating Man City, going into that game 13th in the table compared to their current standing of sixth.

Indeed, Wolves have now lost just two of their last 20 outings across all competitions and have tasted defeat on fewer occasions in the league this season than their visitors on Friday.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates on November 7, 2019© Reuters

Just five points now separate them from the Champions League places as they sit above the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the Premier League table.

Despite that, they have only recorded back-to-back wins on two previous occasions this season, so consistency is definitely an area for improvement looking ahead to the second half of the campaign.

The likelihood of ending 2019 with their first three-match winning streak of the season looks bleak, though, considering a trip to Anfield follows this match against the champions, leaving Wolves with arguably the toughest possible finale to the year.

Saturday's win over Norwich City means that Wolves have picked up more points away from home than they have in front of their own fans this season, in addition to losing fewer games and conceding fewer goals.

Nuno's side have already proved that they have the tools to hurt Man City should the champions suffer an off-day, though, and the visitors are one of few teams the home fans will accept another counter-attacking performance against at Molineux.

Wolves Premier League form: WDWDLW
Wolves form (all competitions): DWDWLW

Man City Premier League form: WDWLWW
Man City form (all competitions): WLWWWW

Team News

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne applauds fans after the match in October 2019© Reuters

Man City fans will have taken a sharp intake of breath when Kevin De Bruyne - the star of the show in recent wins over Arsenal and Leicester - appeared to pick up an injury in the latter match, being replaced in stoppage time.

However, the Belgian has eased concerns and insisted that it was nothing more than cramp, meaning that he will be available for the trip to Molineux.

Ilkay Gundogan was also withdrawn towards the end of the Leicester win after complaining of muscle tightness, and he will undergo a late fitness test to determine whether he is ready for this match.

David Silva is definitely out once again, however, as he continues to struggle with a leg injury which has kept him out since the Manchester derby.

Friday's match will also come too soon for John Stones, although both could return in time for Sunday's game against Sheffield United.

Sergio Aguero made his comeback off the bench last time out and could start a Premier League game for the first time since November 23.

Wolves have no new injury concerns of their own, but changes could be in the offing after Nuno's outspoken criticism of the "absurd" fixture schedule his side faces.

A home tie against Man City is arguably more winnable than the trip to Anfield two days later, though, so if there is to be significant rotation the bulk of it could come against Liverpool instead of this match.

Wolves possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Traore, Jimenez

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

Head To Head

Wolves' win in the reverse of this fixture ended a nine-year, seven-match winless streak against Man City which included seven defeats.

Not since 1999 have Wolves done the double over Man City, with those two triumphs coming in the old Division One.

Overall the all-time head-to-head is evenly split at 48 wins apiece and 25 draws, although only three of those Wolves wins have come in the Premier League.

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We say: Wolves 1-3 Man City

Wolves have every reason to be quietly confident going into this match, and it would not be a huge surprise to see them come away with something. However, Man City have stepped it up a gear in their last two games and, with at least one of the two teams above them guaranteed to drop points, the importance of them picking up a victory becomes even greater.

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Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta before the match on November 30, 2019
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