For the third year in a row, a key Manchester City player picked up a long-term injury before the Premier League campaign began.
Pep Guardiola had to do without Benjamin Mendy and Kevin De Bruyne in the last two seasons. He highlighted the problem in a recent interview.
“Unfortunately it’s incredibly bad news because in three seasons we have had three ACLs.”
City coped quite well when Mendy was sidelined for over nine months in 2017/18. One fact which has not been highlighted enough is Guardiola’s ingenuity in filling the position.
Lacking any natural left-back in the squad, the Catalan converted midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko. He then coached them to perform. His team won the double.
Last term, it was De Bruyne who suffered a similar injury. As City’s best player by far the previous campaign, Guardiola expertly set up the team to ensure the Belgian wasn’t overly missed. Although he did return, his role was minimal.
The bottom line is, things went smoothly without him. Bernardo Silva emerged from the background to play a starring role as the Citizens made history by winning the domestic treble.
City are the clear favourites with the Australian gambling sites to lift the English Premier League title again at the end of this season. Sane’s injury is a set-back, of course, but Pep Guardiola’s squad is strong enough to cope – hence them being priced as the most likely side to top the table in May.
Sane had a reduced role in 2018/19 compared to the season before. Still, his importance cannot be underestimated.
The German notched 10 goals and the same assists in 31 league appearances, having started 21 of those. Such an attacker will be missed by any team.
It’s never a good sight to see a player miss out on the season due to injury – but in a contact sport like football, it’s hardly inevitable.
And as we all know in the sport, one man’s injury is another man’s emergence or chance to get more minutes.
On a day where there was no Leroy Sane to call upon and Bernardo Silva sat out as a result of a muscular issue, Mahrez shone brightly.
The former Leicester City man proved too hot to handle as he ran the West Ham defence ragged. Two sumptuous assists for Raheem Sterling helped the Englishman bag a hat-trick.
With all of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal strengthening their squads this summer, the title race should be even tougher. The trio is intent on making a push for silverware this time around.
Hence, City must be ready to take things a notch higher. The players must demonstrate the readiness to give their all to accomplish the task at hand. That makes Mahrez’s show of commitment exemplary.
It’s not surprising then that he was instrumental to the opening day victory. With regular performances like that, he will be a key player for the team this season.
Sane might be out but Mahrez is in and looking good to go.