Guardiola has an almost impeccable record this season which he surely intends to maintain. He seems to have very much found his groove and to have finally deciphered what English football is all about.
It looks like the only thing that can come between him and a perfect domestic record is injury related. While it is true the Citizens have one of the best squads in the world, missing out on certain players could make a difference.
At this point in time, 4 out of 5 injured players are the kind of players who could win City a game.
Let’s have a look at who those players are and what is their availability for the FA Cup clash and also for the games to come:
• Benjamin Mendy – Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury – picked up in September, this knee injury will keep Mendy out of the game until the middle of April. It`s a major loss for the club as Guardiola now uses Fabian Delph out of position to cover for the French left-back. Hopefully when Mendy comes back, he will be properly recovered.
• Kyle Walker – Groin Injury – there’s no return date set for Walker which is unfortunate as the England international impressed since moving from Tottenham. In 27 games he delivered 5 assists which is a lot for a right-back. The bad news is that this back in 2014 Walker underwent groin surgery which kept him out of the game for 200 days. Hopefully this time luck will be on his side and he will return soon.
• Vincent Kompany – Calf Strain – picked up the injury around Christmas but is expected to return for the game against Burnley. It remains to be seen if Guardiola will use him or give him an extra week to recover for the Liverpool game.
• Phil Foden – Ankle Problem – no return date. He could have been used by Guardiola if available, seeing that he was featured in the EFL Cup and less important Champions League games.
• Gabriel Jesus – Medial Collateral Ligament Injury – will be out for 6 to 8 weeks according to Guardiola. This seems like the worst loss of the season for City. The entire team and fans will miss the Brazilian for the next 2 months. Check out all the support the striker got from fans and team mates though as the City fans were pleased as the club dedicated the win to the injured Jesus.
Burnley will also have to play without a few team regulars. They are obviously affected by this as they haven’t managed to win any of their last 5 games.
• Stephen Ward – Knee Injury – his return date is set for the 1st week of January but it is unlikely he will be fully recovered. We also have to consider that Burnley could make the UEFA Europa League this year based on the PL standings. There’s a chance Sean Dyche will put the FA Cup second on his priority list.
• Robbie Brady – Knee Injury – picked up on December 2nd. He has no return date scheduled as the Irishman looks to be on the sidelines for quite some time
• Chris Wood – Knee Injury – He could return on this weekend but it is unlikely to see him play as he has been out since December.
• Tom Heaton – Dislocated Shoulder – Burnley’s captain has been out since September and is expected to return at the end of January. He is probably the team’s most important absentee. He will not play against Manchester City.
The injured list is pretty balanced, but City still look like favorites against Burnley. We expect the Citizens to treat this game as any other but to be just a bit more careful not to pick up more injuries and avoid fatigue to team members with one eye on their next big Premier League clash against Liverpool.