Premier League football finally returns to east London, with Pellegrini’s team facing the daunting task of welcoming the champions to the London Stadium.
With that said, the Chilean is expected to limit the involvement of the majority of his summer recruits, with only club record signing Sebastien Haller likely to start up front.
Meanwhile, pre season star Jack Wilshere is expected to get the nod in the centre of midfield, with the club’s official website reporting on Thursday that captain Mark Noble isn’t fit to feature on Saturday.
It was also revealed on the website that first choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is available to play after an injury scare, and thus it would be a big surprise if the imperious Pole didn’t line up between the sticks against Pep Guardiola’s side.
Meanwhile, Ryan Fredericks will surely get the nod at right back having solidified his hold on the position last season. On the other flank, though, Aaron Cresswell will likely start due to Arthur Masuaku’s lack of pre season football.
At centre back, Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop are the best bets to resume their partnership. Winston Reid is fit at last, while Angleo Ogbonna is sniffing around and Goncalo Cardoso was brought in, but Balbuena-Diop remains the finest centre half combination in east London.
As mentioned, Wilshere would appear to be a dead ringer to start alongside Rice in the middle of the park after excelling over the summer. Further forward, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson are expected to play off burly frontman Haller.