LONDON: Manchester City’s defensive resilience in the absence of the injured Benjamin Mendy faces its first and arguably toughest test when the Premier League leaders travel to champions Chelsea on Saturday.
The 23-year-old France full-back has been in fine form for City since his £50 million pre-season move from Monaco.
But Thursday saw City announce Mendy will undergo surgery in Barcelona on Friday after he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during last weekend’s victory over Crystal Palace.
“Bad news guys — I’ll be joining Injury FC on loan for a couple months with ruptured ACL… but will be back soon and stronger hopefully,” tweeted Mendy.
City manager Pep Guardiola is under pressure to make good on a huge amount of pre-season spending that saw him splash out more than £130 million on three full-backs alone by bringing major silverware back to the Etihad Stadium.
The Spanish manager, speaking before the full extent of Mendy’s injury was confirmed Thursday, said: “We have Danilo, (Fabian) Delph and (Oleks) Zinchenko who can play there so we will see as we go along.”
Both City and Chelsea, three points behind both Guardiola’s men and second-placed Manchester United, go into Saturday’s game on the back of midweek Champions League victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid respectively.
But Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is unhappy that, while City played at home on Tuesday, his side have a short turnaround after arriving back in London in the early hours of Thursday morning following their success in the Spanish capital.
“I think we are a bit penalised,” said Conte. “Man City are a really strong team. They are scoring a lot of goals (21 in six Premier League games alone), they are in a good moment of form and we have to prepare well [for] this game because it is very important. There is the international break [after this weekend]. My surprise is for this because there is time [to play the game later].”
Aguero injured in Dutch car crash
There was further bad news for the Citizens as talismanic striker Sergio Aguero “sustained injuries” in a car crash in the Netherlands and is returning to Britain to be checked ahead of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
“Sergio Aguero will be assessed by club doctors today after being involved in a road accident on Thursday. The City forward was in Holland on his day off and has sustained injuries,” said the statement.
The prolific 29-year-old was due to return to Manchester on Friday morning to be assessed ahead of City’s Premier League clash at Chelsea on Saturday.
Amsterdam police spokesman Frans Zuiderhoek told AFP that officers attended an accident in the city at around 11pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday after “a taxi-cab hit a lamp-post”.
He could not confirm the identities of the two passengers and the driver, who all asked to remain anonymous.
“No other vehicles were involved,” he told AFP early on Friday, adding that three people in the taxi “have been transferred to hospital for observation… but there were no bad injuries”.
The accident occurred on De Boelelaan street, said Zuiderhoek, not far from the Arena A where Colombian singer Maluma performed on Thursday.
The Argentina striker, who has scored 176 goals for the English club, on Thursday posted a picture of himself with the singer on his official Instagram page.
British media reported that Aguero, who has already scored six times in the Premier League this season, had sustained broken ribs and was set to be out for around two months.