Many factors are currently up in the air for many clubs with the news that Brazil are not allowing Premier League players who were not released for international duty earlier in the month to play this weekend, insisting on a 5-day quarantine despite the players not leaving the country.
City have arguably been hit the hardest by this news, with Gabriel Jesus having scored once and assisted 3 times in 3 matches so far this season. More importantly, Ederson would be unavailable for Leicester away and City’s second goalkeeper Zack Steffen currently has COVID, meaning Scott Carson would make his second Premier League appearance since 2011. The situation has been confusing and seemingly come out of the blue but more recent reports are suggesting clubs are going to ignore this ‘rule’ enforced by Brazil.
Either way, a decision will be very last minute with the matter still not resolved less than 24 hours before kick-off. This will impact Pep Guardiola’s team selection (of course) and training for all the players involved, unaware of whether they will be in the team or even the squad for Saturday.
In recent seasons City have struggled against Leicester, losing 1-0 in the Community Shield last month and a heavy 5-2 loss last season at home. However, it is easy to say this is a tough match and arguably if Brazil maintain their position there is no clear favourite, but both recent losses to the Foxes need to be analysed more clearly.
Many will remember the 5-2 loss clearly as it is not often you see 3 penalties conceded in a very similar fashion in one match. Looking more closely into this – Eric Garcia was one of the players who gave a penalty away and he of course will not feature. It is also unlikely Nathan Ake will start with Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones all so strong this season and last season. The loss in the Community Shield was also due to a penalty being given away in the last minute, again by Ake.
City’s defence is much more solid than when the blues lost early last season and the same team will not feature as played last month as Guardiola played a weakened side. City have already lost once this season to Tottenham Hotspur in the first match, but have excelled against Norwich and Arsenal since, beating both 5-0. It can be debated that no match is a must-win this early in a season, albeit this would be as close as you can get.
You might wonder why is this a must-win? The reason this can be in contention for a must-win match is because at the end of September to the beginning of October City have 3 very tough matches – as tough as you can get, in fact.
On September 25th City play Chelsea (A), just 3 days later, on September 28th we travel to Paris to face Paris- Saint Germain (A) and to make matters worse, the next match on October 3rd is Liverpool (A). As much as we can dream, I think most City fans would agree it would take a great deal to win all 3 of these matches, maybe even this feat being pretty improbable.
This means that matches like Saturday’s against Leicester, and especially Southampton (H) in mid-September need to be where City pick up points, as this will become much more difficult in the coming weeks. This also makes this Wednesday’s fixture at home to RB Leipzig a match where a win is a must, with us being the firm favourites and in such a tough Champions League group.
All in all, Saturday will be tough no matter which way you look at it. If Carson does feature, all City fans will be behind him, as we are all our players. Despite the only other appearance he has for City conceding 3 to Newcastle, this cannot be looked at at face value as 2 of these goals were defensive errors (one a penalty) that you cannot blame a goalkeeper for.
Unfortunately for Manchester City fans that do not have a ticket for the match, they will be unable to watch due to the fixture bizarrely not being televised (kick-off Saturday 11th September, 3 pm GMT). Whether listening on the radio, singing at the King Power, or anxiously refreshing your phone for updates – we’re all behind the boys and let’s look forward to what will be a hard-fought match!