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What is Manchester City’s Best Starting XI?

Some Arsenal supporters may disagree, but today is the day that the Gunners passed the baton to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. The ease with which Manchester City was able to pinch Samir Nasri away from Arsenal was a clear sign that City have more leverage, i.e. money, than Arsenal. And the balance of power has shifted from the Emirates to Etihad.

But looking at Manchester City’s squad, which is rich in talent, manager Roberto Mancini faces a massive predicament in terms of trying to figure out who should play in his starting eleven.

I’ve posted my recommendation for Manchester City’s starting XI. The BBC Sport Squad Selector I used to design the team wasn’t very flexible, but the formation is supposed to be a 4-5-1 which can revert to a 4-3-3 when City are on the counter attack. I’ve slotted Samir Nasri into the left midfield position, but he can push into the field to allow Gael Clichy to push forward down the left wing.

What do you think? What’s your recommendation for Manchester City’s best starting XI? Share your recommended Manchester City starting XI in the comments section below.

Thanks to EPL Talk reader Mike Hinker for the story idea.

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  1. wahyu

    December 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Richard (Savic)_____Lescot______Kompany__________Clichy
    ________________De jong_______Barry (Milner)
    ____________Milner (A.Jonhson)_____________Nasri

  2. wahyu

    December 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    My Formation Favorite ( counter attack )


    Richard Lescot Kompany Clichy

    toure yaya Barry

    Nasri Silva



  3. Kevin

    August 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    My favourite formation (piercing attack)

    Richards Kompany Lescot Kolarov

    Silva Yaya Nasri

    Aguero Dzeko




    Richards Kompany Lescot Clichy

    Silva Yaya Barry Nasri

    Aguero Dzeko

    Yaya will make room for De Jong; Silva as usual will make room for my boy Adam Johnson. Aguero and Ballotelli will rotate. Dzeko will give way to Tevez in which case the formation switces to 4-3-2-1. Richards will occaiosnally make room for Savic; Lescott will make room for Kolo Toure or Zabeleta. Kompany is the only player who may play 90 mins every game… I notice Dzeko doesn’t like being a lone striker, he wants options when he gets the ball , though he’s not afraid to take on a defender or two if there’s none. Ballotelli is not good at tackling for the ball, so he”ll need defensive support. He’s powerful at taking shots when he is composed. Barry is excellent is measuring a lob pass to the front men and has a very high work rate. Kolarov needs to practice crossing the ball in training. That is missing from the wide players. That’s what Beckham did and he was superb. When playing against Manu, they need to close mark in the midfield, force them to pass quickly. If they run at you with room you’ll have a handful because their players are very quick when attacking. Narrowing the pitch gives your defenders less opponents to concentrate on. Force them to lob the ball, especially to their wide players which are the strength of the attack. They are a lot more dangerous from crosses. Once the ball is in the air it’s a 50/50 battle for city defenders. Play them aggressive, they’ll complain a lot when tackled (particularly Rooney, as if it’s basketball), and at times it appears they have the favour from the officials, but complain as well and work the conscience (if any) of the officials until they become less bias.


    Richards Kompany Lescot ( Zabeleta)

    De Jong

    Silva Yaya Nasri

    Aguero Ballotelli (Dzeko)


    Wow the possibilities are endless, depending on the opponent and the type of game Manchini wants to play…. For the Champions league Manchini should be agressive in the group stage and overwhelmed Villareal and Napoli. Napoli don’t play well at fast pace, starve Nilmar and Rossi of the ball as much as possible. He must be more careful with Bayern as they have players that can turn the game on the counter. In the knockout stages, he can revert to the former – defend first approach. If they can’t score they can’t beat us…With Joe Hart in goal his chances are good against even the likes of Barca and Real in a shoot-out. In short group stage play HARD – knockout stage play SMART…

  4. nerd

    August 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    m.richards kompany k.toure clichy
    de jong y.toure
    silva nasri
    dzeko aguero

  5. edmilson

    August 25, 2011 at 6:39 am

    ————— –Aguero———————
    ——-Silva————————– Nasri
    ————-Yaya———De yong——–
    ——Clichy –Toure—Kompany—–Richard
    ——————— Hart———————————

  6. ish

    August 25, 2011 at 12:49 am

    interestingly city dont have many ball players in the deep midfield zone, very different to many of the top european teams. they also dont use traditional wingers too often so it will be interesting to see how they bring the ball out of defense against bigger teams and against teams that are more willing to pack the midfield and go for a draw.
    i would have suggested a 4312 but lack of midfield playmaker makes this less of an option, perhaps with de jong, toure, nasri in midfield and silva behind a strike pairing of aguero and tevez. all of them can drop deep and recieve the ball or take it wide so it become quite a fluid system. the trouble is of course lack of natural width but both silva and the forwards are very comfortable coming wide to get the ball so it could work. essentially a 433 with a more narrow and fluid front line using 2 false 9’s instead of 1.

    • Why?

      August 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

      Don’t wanna pick ish but if Silva and Nasri aren’t midfield playmakers then I dont know who is! They are Both World Class play makers.

  7. np

    August 25, 2011 at 12:27 am

    only a matter of time before balotelli, milner, barry and johnson will want to move for first team football.
    When chelsea spent big a few years ago a few of their players were squad players (like glenn johnson etc) but city have bought top first teamers and now have the best squad in prem history. I just can’t see these players being happy not playing (even with the money being great).

    • Why?

      August 25, 2011 at 7:55 am

      City. Balotelli 29 games. Milner 28 games. Barry 47 games!!! Johnson 43 games!!!

      Utd. Evans 21 games. Owen 16 games. Anderson 30 games. Park Ji Sung 28 games Fabio 25 games.

      Chelsea. Bosingwa 24 games. Benayoun 9 games. Ferreira 28 games.

      What’s the difference? All City’s players are Squad players with the exception of 4 or 5 who if they don’t perform will be squad players again! Stop reading and the regurgitating shxte.

  8. Champion of the Sun

    August 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    In Europe in might be worth it to have a 3 CB lineup ready for all of those teams that play with 2 up front or a striker with 2 very narrow wingers. Mancini is big on players being able to play different positions so one could morph the shape to a 4 or 5 defender set up if necessary without making any substitutions. I would line it up as a 3-3-3-1:

    ——-K. Toure—Kompany—Lescott——-
    Richards———–De Jong———-Y. Toure

    This gives space for Richards to overlap Silva, Yaya to push the ball through the middle if he so wishes, and Silva a lot of space in the hole to exploit and use Nasri in support. Very powerful in attacking the box but the longer the ball is held the more each player’s space will be closed down.

  9. Jason

    August 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Amazing this discussion is taking place considering Man City was once in the 3rd division going head to head with Wallsall and Gillingham.

  10. jonny

    August 24, 2011 at 8:17 am



    De Jong…Toure.Ya-Ya…




    More balanced, obviously you could have Dezko instead of adam johnson and move Silva to play from the right and Augero behind Dzeko…



    However i think that would work better in the champions leage where u dont get alot of time and can thread little neat passes. I think that would be perfect. However if we are talking about EPL then A.Johnson would come in to give more balance from the right, can cut in and shoot and take on full back, plus give an outlet out wide as he can hogg the touchline and with nasri playing more central from the left, it would give clichy the licence to get forward and over lap all the time, as they did together with aresenal. so when it gets too congested they have johnson outwide as an outlet. and his performances and his attitude aswell as his bags of ability mean for me in the premiership that team would be more balanced, with de jong holding and toure linking the play from him to the front “4” and with the bursting runs forward if needed. just seems more balanced for the premiership. just my opinion.

  11. pablo

    August 24, 2011 at 7:22 am

    gk hart
    rb richards
    cb kompany
    cb lescott
    lb bridge
    cdm de jong
    cdm toure
    cam silva
    cam aguero
    cam nasri
    st dzeko

  12. Earl Reed

    August 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

    At this point I think we’ll begin to judge Mancini’s ability to match up tactically with the best sides in Europe. If they do acquire Nasri, it will give them many options. The versatility within the squad is astounding, but will make Mancini’s choices for formation and staffing of the positions difficult, IMO…not so much when facing the weekly Premier League squads, but rather when they face tougher opponents down the line in Europe.

    If they’re able to grab another center back before the end of the window, they’d be an interesting matchup against a Barca or Real Madrid.

  13. Why?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:01 am

    The squad will be rotated around a solid core of Hart, Kompany, De Jong, Silva and possibly Yaya. The will use different players for different games, horse for courses e.g Zabletta being more defensive than Richards Barry less attacking than Nasri etc. All player these players will get games and all the core players will be rested as per last year. Man City are a squad not a Team they have every type of player you could think of. They can play any formation with this group and it’s now up to Mancini to mould them.

  14. Alan Knut

    August 24, 2011 at 2:13 am

    So far, I’ve been very impressed with how Mancini handles squad rotation. He seems to have found out, late last season, which combination of players work best together and we haven’t seen too many unhappy first team players(Adebeyor, Bellamy, Santa Cruz are no longer first team players). If anything, the squad gets along amazingly and has some true leaders in Kompany, Zabaleta, De Jong, and Barry. We even kept Patrick Viera around to mentor young players, and we do have youth in abundance.

    I would probably have to agree with the Gaffer on this. I wouldn’t have a couple weeks ago, but Dzeko has looked an absolute menace so far. He is skipping past defenders like Adam Johnson should and he is expertly holding up place. He is almost as hard to take the ball off of as Yaya Toure.

    Personally, I don’t mind Barry in midfield in lieu of Nasri. Barry isn’t flashy, but he is solid.

    I also love Zabaleta and Adam Johnson so I love to see both of them get games. Zabaleta probably best embodies what it means to be a Manchester City player, leaves everything on the pitch and you couldn’t ask to meet a nicer guy. But Richards is certainly first choice at the moment and Johnson just doesn’t allow for the best team, sadly.

  15. Matt

    August 24, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Richards Kompany K.Toure Clichy
    De Jong Y.Toure
    Nasri Aguero Silva

    A bit of a 4-2-3-1. Having De Jong and Yaya covering the back, Yaya with license to go forward. Clichy and Richards are already working fine as a bit of attacking full backs.
    Nasri and Silva to have the license to roam along with Aguero all working off a target man in Dzeko or SuperMario if he gets his act together.

  16. Jake Wilson

    August 24, 2011 at 1:04 am

    First of all, there are four automatic selections every time out for City, as long as they are available: Hart, Kompany, de Jong, and Silva.

    So you start with that, then consider the remaining players’ optimal position.

    Dzeko: target man striker
    Agüero: withdrawn striker
    Silva: attacking mid playing behind the strikers
    Nasri: attacking mid playing on either side of the pitch
    Yaya: box-to-box central midfielder

    Richards has grown into the first-choice right back at the club, while Kompany’s partner in central defense can depend on matchups, with Lescott being better in the air and Touré being the better tackler. Clichy is the best defensive left back at the club, while Kolarov is far better getting forward and whipping in crosses.

    So a generic first-choice City side would look like:
    Richards—-K. Touré——Kompany——Clichy
    ————————de Jong———————–
    ———————–Y. Touré———————–

    With a bench of: Pantilimon, Lescott, Zabaleta, Barry, A. Johnson, Balotelli, and Tévez

    Once Tévez is shipped out, then Milner would be bumped up to the bench.

    Squad rotation necessitated by campaigns on four fronts this season should see plenty of games for Kolarov and Savic in defense, too.

    It seems as though City aim to bring in one more summer signing before the close of the window. I would bring in backup for de Jong, as there is not another out-and-out defensive midfielder in the squad, so de Jong effectively has no cover. There was talk of a bid for Scott Parker this week, and that would make sense.

  17. chubby

    August 24, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Richards, K.Toure, Kompany, Clichy
    Silva Nasri
    Aguero Dzeko


    August 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    how bout this
    i apply it on my Fifa12




  19. Eddie

    August 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Is the influence ($$$) that Man City now throw around good for the EPL ? Yes they have an all star team, however clearly they are not operating with sound financial sense, they are eliminating their rivals by offering their top players money that they would not get anywhere else. They have top players that could be top players else where sitting on bench / playing in the reserves / or just not playing ( Shay Given last season, Adebayor, Bellamy, Santa Cruz, etc)

    Teams operating in this fashion are the worst thing that could happen to the EPL. Soon it will be as predictable as the boring (and broke) La Liga.

    I know its illegal in Europe but its time to consider a salary cap.

    • Evan

      August 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      “however clearly they are not operating with sound financial sense”

      And clubs like United who are in 800 million pounds of debt, and Barca, who keep taking out loans to pay for player are operating with a lot of sense??
      City are actually using money they have, while other giant clubs are running themselves into debt.

      If City were never taken over by the sheikh, we would most likely be in the championship.
      You should be happy that people are talking about a “top 6” in the premier league, but I guess you would prefer a top 2 wouldn’t you?

    • Why?

      August 25, 2011 at 7:31 am

      City’s owners can spend vast sums Eddie and it make massive sense, who had ever heard of Abu Dhabi before the takeover? The publicity that buying City and the players they have bought must be worth an absolute fortune that money cannot buy! Etihad I’d never even heard of them now people see them globally every time City buy a new star. The money they have already spent in relation to their wealth wouldn’t even make a paragraph in the Business page of Abu Dhabi newspapers and not even that if football wasn’t involved

      What do you think Shay Given last season, Adebayor, Bellamy, Santa Cruz, etc all have in common? None of them were bought by Mancini this happens with every new manager if he has the money he will replace the player he does not like the look or the attitude of. It happens at every Club!

      Now Mancini has near enough brought in his own squad I think you will only see one or two quality players a year come in and as for the league being boring have you not noticed Utd and Chelsea winning it year after year? We will now see possibly 5 teams challenging for the title unlike you will in Spain. Broke? The Premier league is the most exciting and most profitable in the World it attracts more investment than any, our top teams are not subsidise by governments etc. TV and league placings pay out a fortune which helps the 8,9,10th etc place clubs still buy quality players which cannot really be done in Spain, with the top two moving further away from the rest every year this is the same kind of affect that the FFP rules will have in other Countries all around the European leagues. FFP are NOT a good thing that Helping stop clubs go out of business. Stopping them from competing more like! Where are all these out of business Clubs?

  20. rimstar

    August 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Heres my Man City XI



    ———————De Jong——————–


    ——————Toure Yaya——————–


    • Fabio

      August 24, 2011 at 4:20 am

      I agree with all of that apart from Balotelli I think City are better with Dzeko

  21. MUFC77

    August 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Depends if Mancini is going to pick a playing system and select the best players for that system or if he’s going to go the England national team route and just pick the best players to keep them happy and try and come up with some sort of system to accommodate them, subtle difference but one works the other rarely does.


    Richards Kompany Lescott Kolarov

    Silva De Jong Toure Nasri

    Dzeko Aguero

    • bluemoon70

      August 24, 2011 at 9:58 am

      I think Mancini has proven he’s not concerned with just keeping players happy…(see Adebayor, Bellamy, Bridge, SWP, etc, etc, etc…). Ultimately, he wants players that get enjoyment out of winning.

  22. David

    August 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks Samir Nasri is just cover for Silva in case the latter gets injured? I don’t think City need another “creative” midfielder owing to the fact that David Silva never has a bad game and puts in MotM performances weekly. I’m not completely buying into how creative Nasri really is, but he is getting a lot of hype so I must be missing something. I’d rather have James Milner or Gareth Barry solidifying the midfield instead of Nasri. Clichy over Kolarov for sure. And I would put Silva on the left with Aguero on the right (obviously they will interchange).

    • BBC

      August 24, 2011 at 12:55 am

      I agree.

      Nasri’s no good on the wing. He always played better when Fabregas was out. Silva’s gonna need some rest even in some big games.

      • Corey

        August 24, 2011 at 8:54 am

        also agree. i’m hoping that the Nasri move is 1) to ultimately weaken Arsenal in the title race and 2) add depth at a position that City has been successfully developing an offense around for the upcoming Champions League campaign. I would also prefer Barry or Milner in the midfield for sure.

        • bluemoon70

          August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

          Determining what Nasri’s best postion is is irrelavent because he’ll get to play in the middle and the wings. The thing is Mancini likes players who are comfortable in multiple positions. Silva is allowed free roam. So, he may start out on the left or right but he’ll drift into the middle. Mancini is building a team so that when Silva does that, another player will just take the place that he left. This is what Nasri can do.

  23. David G

    August 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Richards, Kompany, Toure, Kolarav
    De Jong, Toure
    Silva, Dzeko, Augero

    My formation would have De Jong and Toure covering the back line with Richards and Kolarav providing width. Nasri would conduct flow from the middle with Silva, Dzeko, Augero playing a front three. Tavez in for Dzeko depending on the match up.

    • wtf

      August 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      haha augero tavez kolarav hahaha again haha

  24. Evan

    August 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    How about this for strength in depth?














    There’s players that aren’t even in these teams. Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Bellamy and a few others.

    Our B team could qualify for Europe.

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