Manchester City will be without key player Rodri for their clash with Arsenal, leading to a potential shuffle in tactics from Pep Guardiola
Arsenal have been warned that Pep Guardiola could make some key changes to his Manchester City team to account for the absence of Rodri this weekend. It comes as the two teams are set to go head-to-head for the first time in the Premier League this season, following on from an intense battle last time out.
The two sides led the title charge in the division last campaign, where the Gunners came from nowhere to put themselves in the conversation for winning the league. They did so for most of the year, but a poor end to the season saw City pip them to the trophy late on.
It means the wait continues for the Premier League to return to north London, but there’s plenty of hope surrounding this campaign’s attempt. A decent start puts Mikel Arteta’s side just one point behind Guardiola in the league, with a meeting on Sunday offering the chance to leapfrog them.
While the Gunners are dealing with injury issues themselves, there’s a clear dilemma for City and how they replace Rodri for this weekend. The Spaniard received a three-match ban for violent conduct against Nottingham Forest, meaning he will miss the match on Sunday.
The midfielder has been a key part of Guardiola’s system, with plenty claiming he is amongst the world’s best right now, meaning his absence will be a huge blow. Former Arsenal man William Gallas believes the head coach has a trick up his sleeve to try and accommodate for the loss though.
Speaking to Gambling Zone, Gallas said: “It is better to play against Manchester City without Rodri. They must make sure that they can take advantage of his absence. He is a player that can’t be replaced. Arsenal have to take advantage and create big problems for Manchester City.
“Don’t forget, Pep Guardiola is a tactical magician. He always has something magical up his sleeve. He will be aware of the impact of Rodri’s absence –that is why he was so angry with him when he received his red card.
“City will miss his physicality and strength so perhaps he is considering playing one of his centre backs in Rodri’s role. Maybe that is a role that Akanji will play for this game. I think that Guardiola will need one physical player in that area of the pitch to stop Arsenal.”
It remains to be seen exactly how Guardiola plans to combat the absence, but given his ability to improvise, it could be a totally unexpected switch.