Manchester City have an injury concern heading into their Community Shield meeting with Liverpool. It might tempt the Reds into a new plan.
Aymeric Laporte won’t play until September, per ESPN. It’s an injury that firmly rules him out of the Community Shield later today, then. Instead, Pep Guardiola will likely start John Stones alongside Rúben Dias at the heart of his defence.
And we wonder if that might just tempt Jurgen Klopp into a change of plans. The German will likely start Roberto Firmino upfront, per the Liverpool Echo, with Darwin Nunez starting on the bench.
But this is City’s second-choice centre-back partnership. Stones only started 12 Premier League games last season, for instance, and this will undoubtedly be where they’re at their weakest.
There’s some sense, then, in throwing Nunez into the fray and putting someone right up against them. Not only that but the Uruguayan adds a lot of unpredictability to Liverpool – no one is 100% how Klopp will use him.
That’s not easy for City to deal with, especially as they handle a £57m absence in Laporte.
Manchester City and Liverpool battle injury problems
Of course, the other option is that Klopp goes with Firmino – a forward he knows works perfectly in the side. If City are already weak, why take any chances? It’ll all depend on just how difficult he believes Nunez is to handle.
And there’s another side to this game. Liverpool, after all, have a major absentee of their own in Alisson Becker. In fact, they won’t even have their second-choice goalkeeper as Caoimhín Kelleher is out injured, too.
Adrían will start in goal for the Reds and immediately becomes a target for City. He can’t sweep up as Alisson does, nor is he anywhere near as comfortable with his feet as either the Brazilian or Kelleher. Guardiola will have his players pressing him.
This game could become a battle of exploiting weaknesses, then. Exactly how to do that is the big question of the day.