Pep Guardiola kept plenty of powder dry while disposing of Fulham in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Ederson, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri all watched from the subs’ bench as the Blues beat Fulham 4-1, so will be primed to step up against Brentford.
After a fortnight off, recharging their batteries, City are back in the mill of relentless fixtures, with Norwich on Saturday and then the first leg against Sporting Lisbon three days later.
Guardiola will need to get his rotation right to keep City on track in three competitions, so his team selection against the Bees is a vital one.
Liam Delap returned to action as a sub against Fulham, and James McAtee was awarded valuable minutes – and neither looked out of place in this team.
Guardiola proved he knows what he is doing in terms of bleeding young players into the team in the way he gradually stepped up Phil Foden’s involvement.
The clamor of fans anxious to see more of the bright young things from the academy will fall on deaf ears, and Guardiola will plot a careful course for them.
But he has a flair for the unexpected, as he showed by surprisingly starting Cole Palmer against Everton.
It will be interesting to see what involvement, if any, McAree and Delap have today.
set piece battle
Guardiola has made a big play of the fact that Brentford are the Premier League’s kings of the setpiece, warning his players to be on their mettle when defending corners and free kicks.
But his own team has developed a neat habit of scoring from dead-ball situations, with John Stones scoring from a corner against Fulham and Aymeric Laporte heading in from a free-kick against Southampton in the match before.
City will combat the threat by keeping the ball and denying the Bees the territory from which they can launch setpiece assaults.
Zack Steffen has plenty of potential, but his kicking game against Fulham left a lot to be desired, and the return of Ederson returns City to being the 11-man attacking team they normally are.
Ederson was away on intern national duty last week, but Steffen is usually the cup keeper in any case.
Fulham sensed a degree of uncertainty in the USA international pressing him into a couple of kicking errors, with Steffen visibly annoyed with himself, and his palmed save that teed up a chance for Fabio Carvalho was also less than ideal.
Christian Eriksen only began training with Brentford on Monday, as he begins to re-build his career after he “died” for five minutes during Euro 2020 last summer.
It is too soon for the Denmark and former Spurs star to be involved in the game, but he could travel with the squad – Pep Guardiola clearly thinks so, as he claimed it would “be nice to see him”.
If he does show up, Eriksen can be sure of a warm welcome from City fans, many of whom still have dark memories of the death of Marc-Vivien Foe while playing for Cameroon in 2003.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.