Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Why City Players Might See More Bench Time Soon

The Rigours of the Game

It’s hardly a secret that the rhythm of English football is relentless, particularly for top-tier teams balancing domestic and European commitments. Such is the narrative for Manchester City, as they navigate a punishing fixture list that sees them confront four challenging ties in just 11 days.

Starting with a key European night against Red Star Belgrade at their fortress, the Etihad, the journey continues as they entertain Nottingham Forest in a Premier League encounter. Their quest for silverware in the Carabao Cup takes them northwards against Newcastle, before they lock horns with Wolves shortly after.

Yet, the backstory is even more complicated; many of City’s stars had just returned from international windows, with journeys stretching to the distant realms of South America.

Heroic Returns and Concerning Fatigue

Saturday’s triumph at the London Stadium against West Ham, where City rallied from behind to clinch a 3-1 win, stands testament to the team’s resilience. Standout performances from Julian Alvarez and Ederson, both freshly back from representing Argentina and Brazil respectively, were pivotal.

However, it wasn’t just City’s squad that exhibited signs of fatigue. Guardiola cast the spotlight on West Ham’s Edson Alvarez, fresh from his exploits with Mexico, who only managed to stay on the field for 66 minutes before the inevitable toll of exhaustion set in. Though no injuries were reported, preserving Alvarez’s stamina was paramount for David Moyes.

Guardiola’s Warnings: Player Burnout

Guardiola, always one to voice his concerns, expressed his unease about the looming shadows of an arduous calendar. “It is a problem when you have a lot of injuries,” he mused, hinting at a potential tactical switch. With key figures like Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Mateo Kovacic, and Jack Grealish still recuperating, there’s the undeniable temptation to call upon the talents in the second team.

Drawing attention to the travails of players like Julian Alvarez and Ederson, Guardiola pointed out, “Look at Alvarez from West Ham, 15 or 20 minutes after half-time, he’s out. Why? He’s come from South America, he’s jetlagged.” The core issue, as Guardiola identifies, is the treatment of players amidst the relentless treadmill of fixtures.

Walker’s Astounding Stamina

Amongst concerns of fatigue, there was a beacon of resilience: Kyle Walker. Fresh from netting his debut goal for England, he delivered a sterling performance against West Ham, leaving many, including Guardiola, marvelling at his condition.

Reflecting on Walker’s vitality, Guardiola candidly admitted, “I’ve worked with him for seven years. But I have to admit that when he is stable and happy, he has this ability.” With a touch of humour, he added, “His mum and dad gave him some genetics that our mum and dad didn’t give to us.”

As Manchester City readies for a demanding week, one can’t help but ponder the tactical innovations Guardiola will employ, not just to secure victories, but also to safeguard his players.

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