Manchester City’s 0-1 win away at Bournemouth was dominant but perhaps didn’t tell the whole story of just how much they need the international break to keep their quadruple dreams alive.
More injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones added to the growing injury list of Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Fabian Delph and Gabriel Jesus. Aside from that, the performances in the Carabao Cup Final against Chelsea and then against West Ham last week were well below par.
It seems only a matter of time before something gives.
City have played 25 games in 93 days averaging a game just over every three days, and no matter how strong people claim their squad to be, no team can cope with that for a season and play to their highest ability. Guardiola surely knows City are on the ropes yet are still capable of winning every single trophy on offer to an English side, but fatigue and injuries will play a massive part.
Before the international break in two weeks, City have a home game against Watford in the Premier League, a crucial Champions League round of 16 second-leg at home to Schalke then a trip to Swansea in the FA Cup. If they can win all of those games, it could mean more than just progression in the cups and keeping the pressure on Liverpool.
The break gives Laporte and Fernandinho time to recover ahead of the final run-in as well as a week for the whole squad to take a collective breath after a tumultuous period of football. Going into that break having won every game in the last two weeks proves City can indeed cope with an injury crisis, and it can give them the mentality that says ‘if we got through that, we can get through this’.
Liverpool have a lighter fixture schedule and so injuries have been kinder to them, so it’s an uphill battle for Guardiola’s men to win as many trophies as possible, but how many do you think they’ll win?