For the first time in a long time, Premier League Champions Manchester City looked somewhat human during their 1-1 draw away to newly promoted Wolves last weekend.
While Pep Guardiola’s side are rightfully still the overwhelming favourites to sit on top of the Premier League standings come next May, they did show some signs of weakness that will have encouraged their top six rivals:
Pep can no longer rely on Captain Kompany
Vincent Kompany is undoubtedly one of Manchester City’s greatest players ever and a bonafide Premier League legend. However, it has been obvious for a while now that due to consistent injury problems the Belgium international is clearly a player in decline.
Against Wolves last weekend he committed several cynical fouls that screamed of an aging pro no longer able to trust his failing body and was lucky not to be punished when he overran the ball into midfield.
Although Kompany has never really been a regular under Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach has often been able to call on his club captain for the biggest EPL fixtures, but after last weekend’s performance, this no longer looks like a viable option.
De Bruyne’s serious knee injury
While nobody rejoices at a player sustaining a serious injury, most fans of other top six Premier League clubs would be lying if they said they didn’t feel that the three month layoff of City’s mercurial playmaker didn’t automatically make them think that their own side’s chances of challenging The Citizens had increased.
De Bruyne’s class and efficiency make him one of Europe’s top players and had it not been for Mohamed Salah’s epic goalscoring exploits for Liverpool last season, the Belgium international would have easily been crowned the player of the 2017/18 Premier League season.
While City still has plenty of talent in reserve, any team in the World would be weakened by losing De Bruyne.
Lack of quality back up for Ederson
Who would have thought an injury to accident-prone goalkeeper Claudio Bravo would have caused such panic for the Premier League Champions, although it is not the injury per se, but rather the timing of it that has thrown the Premier League Champions into turmoil.
Bravo injured his Achilles tendon just after the transfer window closed meaning that the only backup option Guardiola has to the brilliant Ederson are 19-year-old Aro Muric and 21-year-old Daniel Grimshaw.
If Ederson is to suffer an injury between now and January – when City will try to sign another experienced ‘keeper – it is doubtful whether the untested Muric or Grimshaw will be able to handle the pressures of a Premier League title race.
Sane out of sorts
It seemed this season was set up for pacey winger and last seasons PFA Young Player Of The Year Leroy Sane to show Germany boss Joachim Low how wrong he was to exclude him from his World Cup squad this summer.
However, after a poor showing in the Community Shield against Chelsea, Sane has found himself on the bench for City’s opening three games of the season.
The 22-year-old attacker came on last weekend against Wolves, but worryingly for Guardiola he looked completely out of sorts and a shadow of the player that scored 10 goals and provided 15 assists during last season title triumph.
Mendy defensive weakness could be exposed by opposition managers
Disaster struck for left-back Benjamin Mendy early last season when the £52 million defender suffered a campaign ending knee injury against Crystal Palace.
However, the France international has earned rave reviews upon his return to Guardiola’s side this season, with his pace and power bringing a whole new dimension to City’s attacking play down the left flank.
It seems though that Mendy is much like many other modern full-backs, whose main strength is going forward and not in defence.
Against Wolves, Adama Traore roasted the 24-year-old defender on several occasions, breezing by the former Monaco man as if he wasn’t there – something that will undoubtedly have been noted by rival Premier League bosses.