After beating Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea to lift the League Cup trophy in a contest that went down to the wire, Manchester City has one trophy in the bag. There are still three more to go and the Cityzens want them all. So do Pep Guardiola and his players. Unfortunately though, the victory came at a cost. Two key players , Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho suffered injuries.
Laporte tweaked his hamstring in the first half of the game against Chelsea and was taken off at half time while Fernandinho limped off towards the end of the second half with a groin problem. The duo added to a list consisting of John Stones and Gabriel Jesus. Those are four key players that are hugely important to Guardiola.
However, the Catalan manager has confirmed that the later duo will be back soon. As for Laporte and Fernandinho, it could take until after the international break in March to be fully fit.
Needless to say, Laporte and Fernandinho have been vital for City this season. So important that they have been ever-present in the lineup especially for the big games. The Brazilian midfielder’s absence with a thigh problem in December coincided with two unexpected losses to Crystal Palace and leicester City. He returned in time to give a Man of the Match performance against Liverpool in a much-needed 2-1 win in January that got City back into the title race.
How will the latest setback affect City moving forward?
With five matches to play in all competitions before the end of March, the duo will definitely be missed. But it’s unlikely going to be to the extent that it derails the club’s ambition with regard to winning trophies this season.
First up is the Premier League fixture against West Ham this evening. Former City boss Manuel Pellegrini has built a team capable of troubling any top side as was shown in their 1-0 defeat of Arsenal. Having also suffered some surprise losses at the Etihad Stadium, the Sky Blues will need to be at their best to prevent another shocker.
The availability of Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne will serve to fill any void there is in the midfield. David and Bernardo Silva will also be on hand to complement their efforts. In defence, captain Vincent Kompany is fit, and at the right time too. The Belgian has struggled with injuries this season, playing a limited role in the team’s progress so far. But he has been on hand at the right times to step in when needed. With John Stones still recovering and Laporte out, he will fill in perfectly.
Next will be a visit from high-flying Watford who recently swept aside Cardiff 5-1. Javi Gracia’s men have been a surprise package this season and currently sit seventh on the log. That suggests it will be a difficult match even though City has been dominant against the side in recent times. But by the time the fixture comes around on the 9th of March, the likes of Stones and Jesus should be fit. So a comfortable victory there should be achievable.
The Champions League return leg against Schalke comes up on the 12th of March. While not taking the German side for granted, even a second string City side should be able to get past the side going by its recent form in the Bundesliga. That was just stretching it. But the point is all things being equal, Domenico Tedesco’s men will not be able to get anything at the Etihad Stadium.
Fortunately, the big match against Manchester United initially scheduled for March 15 has been rescheduled as a result of the FA Cup meeting with Swansea on the 16th. That is also a match the Sky Blues can manage without either of Fernandinho or Laporte.
In the end, the injuries won’t be felt much by City as long as the other players like Gundogan and Kompany stand up to be counted. After the international break, the players would be back and raring to go at the end of March when the team visits struggling Fulham.