Man City can field all 21 players over next six fixtures to arrive in perfect form vs Arsenal – Joe Bray

City have had a leisurely start to the season by their own standards, with two out of three midweeks so far free from a fixture. That has given Pep Guardiola and Juanma Lillo time to ease the squad into action and cope with the niggling number of injuries that have disrupted the campaign so far.

When the campaign resumes, the Champions League group stage begins, taking up six of the ten midweeks before Christmas, not including the two remaining international breaks. With the Carabao Cup and Club World Cup taking up the remaining midweek slots, City could wait until the new year for a week off.

Even then, with the Club World Cup falling when the Carabao Cup quarter-finals are scheduled, the next free midweek (w/c January 1) may have to be used for that competition, and if they progress then the next free midweek would be in February. City will need every member of their squad to play their part.

There are currently 23 players in the first-team squad, although Scott Carson is included in that figure as third-choice goalkeeper. Kevin De Bruyne is injured until the new year, while John Stones and Jack Grealish also currently have injuries but are expected back soon.

Without Carson and De Bruyne, that gives City 21 players to use, and they will be needed over the next six fixtures.

First up is a tricky trip to West Ham, who have beaten Chelsea and Brighton so far this season and have ten points from a possible 12. City have dropped points at the London Stadium in the past, and will find it tough on Saturday. As full-strength a line-up as possible will be required, accounting for the fitness issues with Stones and Grealish.

A realistic XI for that game could be: Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Rodri, Kovacic, Foden, Alvarez, Bernardo, Haaland.

Looking ahead to the first Champions League game of the season, City will be expected to beat Red Star Belgrade at home, but Pep Guardiola likes to take no chances early on in the group stage. He will go strong, perhaps reintroducing Stones and Grealish, while Josko Gvardiol could rotate in for Nathan Ake or Manu Akanji.

Off the bench in those games, the likes of Sergio Gomez – fresh from an assist before the break – and new signings Matheus Nunes and Jeremy Doku could be useful off the bench. The two new signings in particular could be recalled to the starting line-up for the home visit of Nottingham Forest to freshen up the squad after two demanding fixtures.

Then there is the Carabao Cup trip to Newcastle. Ideally, Guardiola would bring in fringe players for an early Carabao Cup game, although Newcastle will be looking to go one better than reaching the final last season and may require a stronger side. If Kalvin Phillips can&apost get a game, though, he will wonder when his next start will come.

Phillips, Rico Lewis, Oscar Bobb – and Gomez, Nunes and Doku – should all feature in that game in some capacity, while Stefan Ortega will be expected to start in goal. That game, however difficult up at St James&apos Park, is a good chance to give key players like Rodri and Erling Haaland a rest. Guardiola may be mindful, though, of making too many changes like at Southampton last season.

Back to the Premier League and a visit to Molineux is next, which has not always been straightforward for City. All squad members should have played a part in those four previous games, and Guardiola can start moulding his line-up towards one that will take on Arsenal at the Emirates in October.

The transfer window has been a hectic one and City have been busy, with high-profile signings and sales aplenty.

City snapped up Croatian pair Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol from Chelsea and RB Leipzig respectively with the latest addition being Jeremy Doku. Wolves&apos Matheus Nunes then joined the Blues on deadline day. In terms of outgoings, Treble winner Ilkay Gundogan departed for Barcelona, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez moved to Saudi Arabia, and Cole Palmer completed a shock move to Chelsea.

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Before that, though, there is the Champions League away trip to RB Leipzig, City&aposs toughest game of the group. City drew there last season in the last-16 and lost in 2021 in a dead-rubber group clash. Beat Leipzig and City will take control of the group, so expect the experienced players like Haaland, Rodri and Dias all to start.