Manchester City have won the Carabao Cup after penalty kicks against Chelsea, but the trophy came at a price. In the match against Chelsea, Manchester City lost 2 of their key players: Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho, who are expected to stay sidelined for a few weeks. That now raises the question; what are Manchester City chances of winning the title in Premier League without them?
The finals of EFL Cup took place on February 24th, which was expected to be an entertaining match, however, it turned out to be a disappointing one instead. Manchester City were overall a better side, but not by a lot. They produced 13 goal attempts and 3 shots on goal, 2 of which in the extra time. On the other side, Chelsea settled with 7 goal attempts and 0 shots on goal. With only one shot on goal in the 90 minutes, it was clear the match would go into the penalties, which it did, as neither of the teams managed to produce a goal in extra time either.
At the finals of EFL Cup Chelsea’s goalkeeper Kepa refused to leave the pitch after the substitution was called. What will be his future at the club you can read here.
The match ultimately ended with Manchester City winning, but at a huge cost. Two of their key players; Laporte and Fernandinho ended up injured and will miss the next matches in the Premier League, as well as Champions League matches. They are expected, to remain sidelined for weeks, which will be a huge problem for Manchester City and their race against Liverpool for the Premier League title as well as Champions League campaign.
Laporte, who has appeared in all 27 games for Manchester City this season suffered a hamstring injury, while Fernandinho limped off the field holding his groin.
After the finals of EFL Cup, Guardiola was happy to win his 2nd consecutive cup but expressed his concerns regarding the injuries, which will set back City in FA Cup, League race and Champions League.
In the last match Manchester City played, they still managed to completely outplay West Ham, but then again… it’s West Ham. What else did we expect? The real question is, Can Manchester City catch up to Liverpool and then be consistent enough to hold on to the lead?
The first problem is catching up to Liverpool who defeated Watford 5:0 in the 28th round of Premier League. Can Manchester City do it? I believe they can, and not because they are much better than Liverpool, but because I don’t trust Liverpool to be consistent enough to keep hold to the 1st place.
My next statement might come off as a joke, but it really isn’t. Liverpool does not have a real striker to carry them to the title. Yes, they have won 5:0 against Watford, I know… but it’s Watford. And I’m not saying they don’t have a team capable of scoring goals, I am saying they don’t have a player that can consistently score goals, which means Liverpool can easily give up points with games that will end up scoreless. On the other side, City did lose 2 of their key players, but they have got Aguero who scored 8 goals in the last 5 played. As far as the Premier League race goes, it will all come down to consistency and mistakes from Liverpool and City. With only 1 point separating them, and 10 more rounds to go this is anyone’s race. The absence of Laporte and Fernandinho will be felt, that is for sure, but to answer the question; to which extend it affect Manchester City and their performance, we need to wait and see how City performs against a tougher opponent.
With the EPL race still going on and with the lead changes, surprising results from Liverpool and Manchester City, in addition to recent injuries, this has become one of the most interesting races for the title in recent years. The only thing missing is Tottenham, who looked like they would join in the race, but ultimately lost 2 recent matches, thus almost certainly losing their chances of fighting for the title. Then again, the ball is round and there are still 10 more rounds to be played before we can be sure who will lift the EPL trophy.