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“Defoe loves a goal against Manchester City!” says this week’s Fan focus guest David

Today Rory is joined by David Mooney from Typical City to talk over how things are going for Pep’s men at Manchester City, Jermain Defoe, and how Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling are going to tun riot at the Stadium of Light this coming Sunday.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

RF: Is it fair to say that this has been a ‘bridging season for Man City? Pep Guardiola has added some brilliant attackers and you certainly look excellent going forward but the defence seems to be lacking and in need of freshening up. Are the fans okay with this and do they see next season as the one where Pep will really put his stamp on the team?

DM: It was probably never meant to be that, but it's become that after a winter period that went a bit wrong. The frustration for City fans is that, a couple of results different - in games they should have won, but lost control of for instance - and the side would be right on Chelsea's heels. It's hard to make that a solid argument, though, because every team has those ‘if only we'd won that one’ games.

City are becoming Guardiola's team, though. It's been clear to see in the last few weeks - and while results like the 4-2 loss to Leicester or the 4-0 loss to Everton are big headline problems, the truth is the team have been steadily improving since that loss at the King Power in December. They're much more fluid in attack and they're looking better, if not great, in defence, which is largely down to Willy Caballero coming in for Claudio Bravo.

I think the fans will be fine with this being the so-called ‘transition’ season, especially if the improvements in performances are just as entertaining as they have been recently. They are certainly on an upward curve at the moment and the signs are good for the future.

RF: Being eleven points behind Chelsea, has the league form caused much discontent among the supporters? Or is it balanced by the solid European form and the possibility of still winning The FA Cup?

DM: City should have beaten Chelsea at the Etihad, but Kevin De Bruyne missed an open goal that would have made it 2-0 - a short time later, Chelsea equalised and took the lead. It's too simplistic to say just that game alone would have left City x points behind, but it certainly would have changed the face of the season.

City were flying high until that sketchy form kicked in around November time and that's the real reason they're so far behind. Since, they've generally been fine.

The European form and FA Cup run has indeed been enjoyable, but I still think most would prefer to see success in the Premier League over anything else. That's not to say the fans would turn their noses up at a trophy - ANY trophy. After going 35 years without one up until 2011, that hunger hasn't gone yet!

RF: We touched on Europe there and while the second leg against Monaco is far from won, you're in the driving seat as you head into the second leg. Do you think City can do it and win the Champions League this year?

DM: I'd never say never, but they're certainly not even close to being the favourites. There is an elite bracket of European club - the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona - and City aren't close to that yet. Don't get me wrong, the performance and result against Barcelona at home shows that, on their day, City would be a good enough match for any of them.

However, cup football is a lot more rooted in chance. It's all about luck of being drawn home or away first, or avoiding the difficult ties. Nobody remembers what the run to the final was, so who cares if it's easy? Just, there's not that many easy draws in the Champions League by this stage.

RF: I'm interested to hear your opinion on John Stones, given how scrutinised his performances have been this season. Has the criticism of him been harsh or do you think his performances have warranted it?

DM: He's not been sensational, but there's certainly a lot for Guardiola to work with. The biggest issue for Stones is that he's got nobody around him that's able to keep their head and play consistently. The full-backs on both side are in desperate need of attention, while Nicolas Otamendi is a caricature of himself these days. He dives in and goes wandering all over the place, leaving others to pick up the pieces - quite how he's got off so lightly with Stones being under the microscope is a mystery.

I'm a big fan of Stones in general. He's comfortable in possession and he can position himself well to put in a good tackle, though he's been in patchy form this season so far.

RF: The Manchester City squad is obviously a one blessed with immense talent but if you had to pick one player that Sunderland fans should be worried about, who would it be? Who's in good form?

DM: Normally, I'd say the likes of Sergio Aguero or David Silva, but at the moment there's two - Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. The latter is headline news wherever he goes, so his upturn in form hasn't gone unnoticed. However, Sane has been superb in recent weeks.

The German is strong, very quick and very skillful and has been finding the net quite regularly recently. He's been the balance to Sterling and he's been a shoe-in for assist as he gets to the by-line and drives the ball across.

RF: Whilst the Sunderland squad is not as blessed with such riches, is there anyone you're worried about in our side?

DM: It's always wise to say Jermain Defoe - if only just to stop him scoring against City. Loves a goal against City, he does.

RF: How is Guardiola going to approach this game? The fixtures are piling up at the minute, a lot of the big names played against Huddersfield and there's the second leg against Monaco on the horizon, so do you think there'll be some rotation? Give us a predicted starting eleven as well.

DM: I think he's more likely to rotate the squad for Wednesday's match with Stoke and against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup the following weekend, so I would expect a strong line-up for Sunday. The games are thick and fast right now, but the manager has a habit of going strong over rotating.

Predicted XI: Caballero; Sagna, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy; Toure, Silva, De Bruyne; Sane, Sterling, Aguero

RF: And to finish off - Predict the score!

DM: Never easy to do and I'm almost always left with egg on my face! Let's go a 2-1 away win.


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