Manchester City regained top spot in the Premier League from Liverpool this weekend. But it came at a price.
Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones both limped off during City’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth. And with Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte already on the sidelines, Pep Guardiola’s squad could be stretched thin over the coming weeks.
The champions still have a chance of winning a historic quadruple this season. We’ve got them at 8/1 to do it. But Liverpool are only a point behind in the league, and losing De Bruyne and Stones for any length of time would be a huge blow.
Stones would be especially missed. As good as De Bruyne is, David Silva and Bernardo Silva can provide invention and goals from midfield.
But if Stones joins Laporte in the treatment room, City will find it much harder to get attacks started from the back. Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi aren’t anywhere near as composed on the ball as that duo.
Fernandinho’s absence would make the issue even worse. He’s the foundation in midfield that gives the attacking players licence to break forward. Take him out and the whole team is less secure. Ilkay Gundogan is very talented, but he’s a slightly awkward fit in that defensive role.
Watford are up next for City, with the Manchester side clear 2/15 favourites to get the points. Then they host Schalke in the Champions League last 16 with a slim 3-2 lead from the first leg, before a visit to Swansea City for a spot in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Guardiola would usually rotate players for the trip to South Wales. But he may not have too many options now. And as we head into the business end of the campaign, tired legs could have a major impact on the title race.
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