Manchester City faced with tough times as KDB and Gabriel Jesus falls to injury
All is quiet on New Year’s Day – as U2 once sang.
The same can't be said of this morning’s press coverage of City, which is dominated by the injuries sustained by Gabriel Jesus and, in particular, Kevin De Bruyne.
In fact, we’ll begin with the words of The Times’chief football writer Henry Winter, who was left saddened by the tackle on De Bruyne at Selhurst Park.
He opines: “The image of Kevin De Bruyne being felled by a cynical, merciless flying scissor kick from Jason Puncheon should be seared on to the authorities’ conscience. The best player in the Premier League crumpled under the impact, falling to earth, and needed placing gently on a stretcher before being carried away. It was a sad image that taints the English game.
“De Bruyne has graced this season with so much sumptuous football, contributing nine assists and six goals in the league, and demonstrating what can be done with dedication, diet, constant practice and total commitment on the field. De Bruyne is a magnificent role model and English football will be the poorer for his absence, however short.”
Excellent stuff as ever from Winter.
Of course, the Blues’ growing injury list has led to the assumption that reinforcements might be needed more urgently than first thought and with the January transfer window now open, the stories linking Alexis Sanchez with a move to the Etihad inevitably take on greater purpose in the media – much to the chagrin of the Gunners’ boss…
The Evening Standard report: “Arsene Wenger’s patience at the chorus of questions over Alexis Sanchez’s future at Arsenal has finally snapped. Fortuitously for him, it now appears that Manchester City’s need for the Chilean might be greater than his.
“Pep Guardiola has already confirmed there will be ‘internal meetings’ at the Etihad next week as they mull what to do in the transfer market after the double blow of losing Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne to injury in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace that ended their 18-match winning run.
“Of course, at 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League, you suspect City could win the title if they found their Jesus replacement from the Dog and Duck Sunday league side - but Guardiola’s targets lie beyond just domestic dominance.
“That is where Sanchez comes in. City could well be without Jesus when their Champions League campaign resumes on February 13, but in the Chilean, they have a replacement who would be free to play in Europe’s elite club competition.”
Don’t expect this story to go away anytime soon.
Moving on to tomorrow’s clash with Watford, and BBC Football pundit Mark Lawrenson is predicting a comfortable home win in his enjoyable column of score casts.
Says the ex-Liverpool legend: “Even before they came so close to losing at Palace, I said I couldn't see Manchester City going the whole season without defeat.
“Even if they make it to spring with their unbeaten run intact, there is the possibility they have the league wrapped up by mid-March and manager Pep Guardiola might chop and change on the domestic front with the Champions League in mind.
“Someone will beat them. But not this Watford side. They have been all over the shop ever since Everton made their unsuccessful approach for manager Marco Silva. They have lost five of their past six games and the players' form has just evaporated.”
Lawro then plumps for a 4-0 home win.
Finally, The Sun believe City will make a bid to sign Barca defender Samuel Umtiti this month as they report: “Manchester City boss Guardiola wants to sign a centre-back as a priority as he targets an unprecedented Quadruple in the new year.
“Umtiti, 24, has the £50m release clause in his Nou Camp contract — and Manchester United are also keen on the France star.”
And that’s it for today – have a great start to the New Year and we’ll be back with more gossip tomorrow morning.