Manchester City’s 4-0 home win over Brighton in their final game before the first international break of the season could hardly have gone any smoother. Indeed, the Premier League champions were in control for the majority of the match, barely moving out of second gear as they struck four past the visiting Seagulls.
However, this could turn out to be a match that has a big bearing on City’s Premier League title defence. It was only 37 minutes into the game when Aymeric Laporte crumpled to the ground after injuring himself in a tackle. At first, it didn’t appear so serious, but the Frenchman was soon stretchered off.
Now, it seems that Laporte will be spend a not-so-significant amount of time on the sidelines. This leaves Pep Guardiola short of options at the back. City were already somewhat short of options before Laporte’s injury following the surprise exit of Vincent Kompany at the end of last season. Now, they are down to bare bones.
Nicolas Otamendi has been playing as City’s first choice centre back pairing with Laporte, but doubts over the Argentine’s concentration persist. John Stones has also spent the first part of the season injured and so Guardiola could be forced into using Fernadinho as a centre back for the next few weeks, at least until Stones returns to full fitness.
This will put huge pressure on a Man City defence which has already looked vulnerable at times early on this season. Tottenham exposed this in coming away from the Etihad Stadium with a point and it could be the case that more opposition teams more emboldened when faced with a weakened City side.
With the Premier League title race as tight as it already is, Laporte’s injury presents Man City with an early test in their season. They can’t afford to let Liverpool build a commanding lead at the top of the table. There is next to nothing between the two sides and so an injury to a key player, like Laporte, could prove pivotal, even if he is missing for just a few weeks.
Of course, if there’s one team that can absorb the loss of a defender like Laporte, it’s Man City. Their passing game makes it very difficult for opponents to expose them at the back. But nonetheless, the margins at the top of the Premier League table right now are so thin it could prove significant.
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