Pep Guardiola has a problem on his hands. As it stands, he has just one fit first team centre back. A long term on the sidelines for Aymeric Laporte and a John Stones injury has left Nicolas Otamendi as the last man standing in the heart of the Man City defence. On Wednesday night, Guardiola lined up with Fernandinho alongside Otamendi as the Blues thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in Ukraine. However, with Fernandinho now 34 years old and no stranger to the physio’s table, Pep could soon have more problems on his hands.
The John Stones injury could see him miss tough away trips to Everton and Crystal Palace. After an ego bruising defeat away to Norwich last weekend, we can be sure that the Blues and the Eagles will be piling pressure onto the City defence whenever they try and play out from the back. At Carrow Road Otamendi was charged down when in possession, leading to Norwich’s 3rd goal.
Man City are already 5 points behind Liverpool. If they continue to drop points with Stones out injured then Jürgen Klopp’s side could run away with the league in Autumn.
Guardiola cannot expect Fernandinho to play every game that John Stones is injured for. He will be forced into an even more makeshift defence for some fixtures, an inconsequential League Cup tie with Preston North End will likely see the gaffer experiment.
The champions have been defensively frail at the best of times this season, an even more stretched back line could prove to be their undoing this campaign.