Will Aymeric Laporte injury cost Manchester City dear? Why Pep Guardiola’s gamble could backfire


Manchester City woes’ scale were laid bare as Norwich stunned them at his disposal – and also few other options in Carrow Road, it could cost Pep Guardiola precious.
John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi had nightmare matches at the 3-2 defeat, however Guardiola has made his own bed by picking against replacing Vincent Kompany in the summertime, and with Aymeric Laporte hurt long-term, now appears stuck with a partnership he’s never favoured before the January transfer window .
He has done his best to steer clear of pairing the two. For a man who likes to rotate, Guardiola started them together only 3 times in the whole of last season. They do not look a mix, especially against a Liverpool side in this kind of mood. “Maybe we will think about [another defender] in December, maybe,” Guardiola said on Friday, ahead of the Norwich game. That perhaps is fast becoming a definitely.
Even if Liverpool lose five points between now and January 1, which will be far from ensured (they have only dropped six in their past 19 games), City would have to be perfect to draw level. They seemed a thousand miles.
Guardiola’s guys would have half a season to get themselves back on course, when they arrived back last season it was not against a Liverpool side to a 14-game winning series, although needless to say.
Against Norwich, Stones and also Otamendi’s duo were uncertain out and uncomfortable in possession of it, the antithesis of this Guardiola defence we’ve become accustomed to, and that nervousness appeared to disperse across the remainder of their line also.
Norwich must be perfect, was the message ahead of the match. No requirement though before squaring to tap when, for the second of Norwich, Stones attempted and failed to perform with Teemu Pukki offside, permitting him a clear run on goal.
Sometime after, due to their third, Stones’ unhelpful pass across his own box found Otamendi, apparently unaware he would be closed down by Emi Buendia, robbed of their ball and a very simple finish setup Pukki to poke home.
“That second goal shows how much they are likely to miss Aymeric Laporte,” Jamie Redknapp advised Saturday Night Football. “He is critical to this team and the chemistry between the two centre-backs, John Stones along with Nicolas Otamendi, isn’t there.
“They were all around the place for the next target and that summed up their entire performance. With Laporte, they appear to have that stability. It is obvious to everybody who Stones and Otamendi don’t appear to be a true partnership.”
Guardiola remained typically defiant. “I’m not concerned,” he told Sky Sports after full time. He is not going to throw either defender under the bus, especially when he wants them more than he would enjoy, however City see out another 3 months will be a major concern for their manager whose activities have often spoken louder than their words.
We have noticed these lapses in focus from Stones and Otamendi especially at Guardiola’s debut year in football. The next would swing shambolic and minute with regularity, with them collectively. They did grow under his wing with another summertime , but Pep felt the 57m inclusion of Laporte contains trusted them to start together in eight league matches in the 20 months since, and was mandatory in January 2018.
But now it’s back to square one. Laporte injured, Kompany gone, Harry Maguire, who Guardiola confessed he had courted in the summer, playing with his soccer in the future.
“We couldn’t afford him,” was the official line in the Etihad if Maguire joined Manchester United for #80m, soon afterwards City had signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid for #62m. Had they been too concerned about replacing Kompany, they may have maintained their horses.
Why a Fernandinho replacement was prioritised by City above a centre-back, a location where they had been short is not certain. However he’s made his feelings the club is happy to rely on Fernandinho to slot in again, or that either his hands genuinely were tied, despite the fact he hasn’t started league games. Kyle Walker, that had a combined time at centre-back in a three was mooted.
“We did not anticipate the harm and in over three years collectively John and Nicolas have played and thanks to those we’ve won,” added Guardiola within his post-match interview.
“Laporte is hurt and Kompany is currently in Anderlecht, so we cannot just analyse it off one game. We need to improve on that and hopefully we could do better”
He is right of course. It is just 1 game. But when injury struck when it comes down to if City were ready to risk spending big money or risk losing their Premier League crown they might be wishing they made a option.
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