Manchester City will face one of their biggest tests of the season on Saturday when they travel to London to face Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s men sit top of the Premier League having won four of their opening five games, so Pep Guardiola’s side’s task was always going to be a tough one. Throw City’s growing injury list into the equation and suddenly it becomes even tougher.
But the role fate plays in football should never be underestimated. The aforementioned injury list means Nathan Ake is likely to start as he makes a return to Stamford Bridge, four years on from his west London departure.
If City are to take all three points from their clash with the Blues, they’ll need Ake to follow the example set by Kevin De Bruyne when he returned to Chelsea in 2017.
The injuries sustained by Aymeric Laporte and John Stones couldn’t have come at a worse time for City. Laporte had been his side’s standout performer this season, and while Stones hasn’t featured for City this term, the partnership he forged with Ruben Dias last season meant he could have slotted into the void left by Laporte with ease.
Now, in Dias and Ake, Guardiola has been left with just two senior centre-back options. The former has picked up his excellent form from last season, though the latter has struggled so far this term.
In the Community Shield the Dutchman conceded a late penalty to hand Leicester City victory, and in the 6-3 Champions League defeat of RB Leipzig, he was found wanting for all three of the German outfit’s goals.