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

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

Manchester City will become the final team to get their 2020-21 Premier League season underway when they visit Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night.

Pep Guardiola's side will be hoping to wrestle the title back from Liverpool this season, but face a difficult opening test against a team that beat them home and away last term.


Match preview

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

Six teams finished above Wolves in the final Premier League table last season, but for Manchester City this could be just about the toughest opening game they could have faced.

Wolves did the league double over the then-champions in 2019-20, and on Monday night could become the first team to ever beat a Guardiola side in three successive league matches.

All of the stats suggest that Wolves are Man City's bogey team beyond just last season too; excluding penalty shootouts, Guardiola only has a losing record against two managers he has faced at least five times - Nuno Espirito Santo and Jurgen Klopp.

The 3-2 triumph in the corresponding fixture at Molineux last season also saw Wolves record 62.2% possession - the highest percentage any club has managed against a Guardiola team in any competition.

That statistic should be qualified with the fact that Man City were reduced to 10 men early on in that match, but that will not change Guardiola's expectancy of how difficult this contest will be.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured in August 2020© Reuters

Such is the standard at the top of the Premier League now that any dropped points - even in the opening fixture - could prove costly, and if Liverpool overcome Chelsea on Sunday then Man City will once again find themselves playing catch-up from an early stage.

On the plus side, their opening-day record is superb; City are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League curtain-raisers, and victory at Molineux would see them win a record 10th in a row.

City ended last season strongly too with five successive league victories, scoring 21 goals and conceding just once in the process.

However, they were beaten seven times away from home in the league last term and, while they were also some way adrift of Liverpool in terms of home form, it is that record on their travels which will need the most improvement if they are to close the gap on the champions.

For their part, Wolves will have their sights set on European qualification once again after finishing seventh for a second season in a row last term.

Raul Jimenez celebrates scoring for Wolverhampton Wanderers on September 14, 2020© Reuters

The new campaign could not have begun any better with Wolves making the quickest start to a season in Premier League history, racing into a 2-0 lead within six minutes at Sheffield United on Monday.

That was how it finished as Nuno's side made an early statement against one of their fellow European hopefuls from last season, with Raul Jimenez in particular looking sharp.

However, there was disappointment in midweek as a 1-0 defeat at home to Stoke City sent them out of the EFL Cup despite naming a number of regular first-teamers in their starting XI.

The likes of Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Romain Saiss, Ruben Neves and Adama Traore all started that match, while Jimenez was among the players to come off the bench.

Those players can expect a much tougher test against a Man City side champing at the bit to get going again, but their recent record in this fixture will fill them with confidence of picking up another positive result.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form: W
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions): WL

Manchester City form (all competitions): N/A


Team News

Sergio Aguero sits injured on June 22, 2020© Reuters

Guardiola has confirmed that club-record goalscorer Sergio Aguero could be sidelined for a further two months with the knee injury he has carried over from last season.

Gabriel Jesus is therefore expected to lead the line, but City's attacking options could be further impacted by doubts hanging over the heads of Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez.

Bernardo is suffering from a quadriceps strain he picked up on international duty, while Mahrez is still working his way back up to fitness following a positive coronavirus test.

Mahrez is thought to be closer to full fitness than Aymeric Laporte, who also returned a positive COVID-19 test and could miss out on Monday night as a result.

City also confirmed on the morning of the match that Ilkay Gundogan has now tested positive for coronavirus too, ruling him out of the game.

Newly-crowned PFA Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne is expected to start, while Gundogan's absence could see Phil Foden start despite his transgressions on international duty.

Wolves will be without long-term absentee Jonny, but Nuno otherwise has a clean bill of health as he prepares to welcome the former champions.

Summer signing Fernando Marcal is likely to fill in for him at left wing-back again, while Traore could revert to right wing-back for this match, despite having scored three of his four league goals last season against Man City.

Diogo Jota will not play any part as he closes in on a move to Liverpool.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Traore, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal; Podence, Jimenez, Neto

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Ake, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Foden; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling


SM words green background

We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Manchester City

This is a bogey fixture for Man City and would certainly not have been Guardiola's first choice for their opening game.

Both teams have attacking units which can cause plenty of problems for the opposition, and we are backing an entertaining draw at Molineux.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Who will win Monday's Premier League clash between Wolves and Man City?

Wolves
Draw
Man City
Wolves
0.0%
Draw
0.0%
Man City
0.0%
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Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo pictured on August 10, 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Everton5410147713
2Aston Villa44001221012
3Liverpool53111313010
4Leicester CityLeicester530212849
5Arsenal53028629
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves530257-29
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs522115878
8Chelsea522113948
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham521211747
10Leeds UnitedLeeds52129907
11Manchester CityMan City42117707
12Southampton521289-17
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle521279-27
14Crystal Palace521268-27
15Manchester UnitedMan Utd4202912-36
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton5113911-24
17West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom5023513-82
18Burnley401338-51
19Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd501427-51
20Fulham5014412-81

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