There are only two uncertain spots in Pep Guardiola’s strongest Man City starting XI – Daniel Murphy

After a positive yet shaky start to the season, City now feel as though they&aposre primed to go on the sort of run that claims championships. Manchester United meanwhile, can only dream of a start as shaky as their neighbours.

Pep Guardiola&aposs side had its fair share of upheaval to start the season. The crucial pair of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez departed in the summer, Kevin De Bruyne lasted just 20 minutes before being ruled out for the rest of the year and John Stones, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Mateo Kovacic were all sidelined.

Yet, City bobbed along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. They won six matches on the spin straight out of the gate. It took them until February to win four games in a row last season, which given how that campaign ended is a very good omen.

It turns out Rodri was the crucial Jenga block to bring the whole tower crashing down. The Spaniard was suspended for three matches and all of them were lost, including two important Premier League games with Wolves and Arsenal.

Two lacklustre defeats in succession cast a dark tint on an otherwise solid enough start and made the previous unconvincing performances look worse in hindsight. Despite the wins, City hadn&apost been scintillating and there was a worry all the problems may yet have a bite.

As it turns out, having half the squad that won you the treble unavailable will lead to a downturn in performances. When they&aposre back, so are the good times.

Bernardo, Stones and Grealish have all returned to significant action since the international break which has seen City get back to winning ways and performances gradually improve. Wins over Brighton and Young Boys were hard-fought, but United were completely blown away with the best performance of the season so far.

With such a complete and exhilarating display, it&aposs clear that the starting XI at Old Trafford makes up the vast majority of Guardiola&aposs strongest side. Just two places are up for grabs now.

Funnily enough, both come on the left flank. Grealish silenced a lot of his critics with a fantastic display in the derby, one which was full of incisive attacking actions. The No.10 was driving at the defence, making through balls, taking shots and was generally really positive.

It&aposs the sort of display he has needed with pressure mounting on him from the fans after Jeremy Doku&aposs bright start at City. The young Belgian has thrilled with his pace, skill and directness, leading to frustration from some that Grealish doesn&apost attack more.

Grealish showed he can still help out on that front but Doku still offers a different option on the left thanks to his superior speed. Expect the left wing to continue to be rotated going forward.

Then at left-back, questions remain about Josko Gvardiol. The new signing is struggling to find his feet in an unfamiliar position. It&aposs strange he hasn&apost had more of a chance at centre-back yet but Guardiola clearly prefers the partnership of Stones and Ruben Dias.