Will international injuries damage Man City’s Premier League bid?
With each and every international break, club managers are constantly worrying over the fitness of their pivotal players, and it was Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini who was recently left with a daunting list of casualties before their Premier League title bid recommences.
Untimely injuries were picked up by the Sky Blues’ star attacking duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva while featuring for Argentina and Spain respectively, while club skipper Vincent Kompany is still not fully fit but is frustratingly likely to be risked by Belgium against Israel.
City recovered from their earlier Tottenham thrashing by dishing out a hammering of their own against Newcastle United, overcoming the Toon 6-1 before internationals took centre stage, and the current top-flight leaders are 8/1 with Coral to be stunned by Bournemouth this weekend.
In Aguero and Silva, City possess the league’s second-highest marksman and top assists-maker respectively, but the former sustained a worrying hamstring tear while on Argentina duty and faces a month on the sidelines.
It’s a massive blow for City, who have been reliant on their star striker’s constant stream of goals this campaign, having dispatched six domestically so far, and fortunes were dashed further when Silva limped off for Spain with an ankle knock.
The Spanish maestro was forced off his nation’s encounter with Luxembourg after a strong challenge sent him down with a confirmed ankle sprain, ruling him out for at least three weeks, adding to Pellegrini’s injury woes.
City’s creative genius faces a race against time to be fit for the first Manchester derby of the campaign on October 25, and a club history of his absences suggest he is a bigger loss than his South American teammate Aguero.
Contrary to beliefs surrounding the sole focus on Aguero, his previous absences have actually barely caused a ripple in City’s form from his last three injury periods. During the Argentine’s last 17 games missed through injury, City have secured 14 wins and drawn two clashes, which is far from a crisis.
Although, things change dramatically when Silva has been unable to feature, with his last three injury spells, which ruled the Spaniard out for a combined 16 matches, seeing City win on 10 occasions, but lose four times and draw twice.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries may seem like a lesser threat without these pivotal attacking dangers, but the newly-promoted side can take faith from West Ham United’s previous winning visit to the blue half of Manchester, while the anticipated derby swiftly approaches too.
Without Silva, City look likely of suffering a dip in form this term, with their most recent stumble and stunning start coming to an abrupt end having coincided with the Spaniard’s ankle giving him trouble.
The City creator was absent from an unconvincing victory over Crystal Palace, looked extremely short of fitness during a Champions League loss to Juventus, and was missing for defeats to Spurs and West Bromwich Albion.
Within this City winning-machine built by the club’s vast wealth, Silva is the oil for the cogs by which it functions, creating more chances than any other player within the final third for Pellegrini’s Sky Blues.
In the Magpies demolition, Silva was at his absolute best, combining unstoppably with Aguero and fellow playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, gloriously dismantling Steve McClaren’s Tyneside outfit, but attacking prowess now rests heavily on the latter Belgian’s shoulders.
Summer arrival De Bruyne will need to continue his sublime personal form in order for City to maintain a solid streak without their injured stars, while Wilfried Bony has another opportunity to finally make a strong statement up front in blue.
Belgium international De Bruyne is more than capable of grabbing the lead role with both hands, with his strike against Andorra meaning he has now netted five times in his last six outings for club and country, and is 3/1 for a Bournemouth brace or more.
The attacker’s national teammate Kompany has been unable to regain full fitness before his country’s latest Euro 2016 qualifying clashes but is potentially set to be risked in the encounter with Israel, giving Pellegrini more cause for concern.
To lose two superstars during one international break, and possibly soon to be three, is truly unfortunate, but City must boldly battle on without their main men and hope such injury set-backs don’t ultimately prove to be their domestic downfall.