It will be Guardiola vs Pardiola this evening at the Etihad as Manchester City prepare for the visit of West Brom to the Etihad. For the league leaders it will be the opportunity to move another step closer to the Premier League title while for the Baggies they will look to match their performance from last weekend.
Both teams find themselves in the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup, for City that is something of an expectation but for West Brom then it must come as surprise to many. That is because they pulled off one of the shocks of the round as they traveled to Anfield and came out on top.
You could argue that West Brom perhaps did not get the credit they deserved due to the fact that all the headlines were stolen by VAR but for all their cup exploits as of late, Alan Pardew and his men know they have some serious work to do tonight.
That is because Swansea’s second successive unlikely league win has revived their fortunes and more importantly see them move of the foot at the table, that being at the expense of West Brom who although they themselves have been hard to beat as of late it has been more a case of hard fought draws rather than wins.
However, should West Brom earn an unlikely win this evening then they could well move out of the bottom three altogether, such is the nature of just how tight it is in the bottom half of the table right now. That though is a task that is easier said than done.
That is because they are go up against a Manchester City team that although they have shown that they are human this season after defeat to Liverpool are still a cut above the rest as they sit twelve points clear at the top, not only that but they have strengthened the squad in the January transfer window.
That is thanks to the capture of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, the Spanish defender has been a long time target for the club and Pep Guardiola has finally got his man after a big money move was completed earlier in the week.
£57m was spent on the capture of Laporte and he could well feature tonight should his signing be registered in time, if that is not the case then his debut will be put back to the weekend. Whenever that first appearance may be there is no question that his addition to the squad will further boost their chances of silverware on multiple fronts this season.
With Vincent Kompany again injured and City competing on all possible fronts then it made obvious sense that an addition to the defensive ranks was going to be top priority this month, ultimately the only thing stopping this club is whether the squad can withstand the amount of football that is coming in the next few months.
We are going to get to the point where if City continue to proceed on all four fronts then they could well be playing twice a week, this is going to be a test of Pep’s personnel and with that in mind it probably comes as no surprise either that they have tabled a bid for Riyad Mahrez.
It is believed that they have bid £70m for the Algerian and the 2015/16 Premier League winner has told his current club Leicester that he would like to move to the champions elect, if that is a deal to be completed then the likelihood is that it will be after the end of this game.
A game in which West Brom will struggle to get anything out of in all fairness, yes they may be buoyed by the fact they come here off the back of beating Liverpool but this City are a different beast altogether and therefore I can only see this one being a home win.