Manchester City win the Carabao Cup but could injuries be costly?
City beat Chelsea on penalties to retain the Carabao Cup
Last Updated: 24/02/19 9:27pm
Manchester City picked up their first major trophy of the season but it was a triumph that came at a price...
Manchester City were not at their fluent best at Wembley but it was still enough to edge past Chelsea on penalties and lift the Carabao Cup for a second successive season. The first part of the quadruple is complete but injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho could complicate Pep Guardiola's plans with the fixture list at its busiest.
City won the shootout 4-3 after being held to a goalless draw by the Chelsea team that they beat 6-0 in the Premier League earlier this month. Leroy Sane saw his effort saved but Ilkay Gundogan, Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and finally Raheem Sterling all converted. City got the job done. "They managed to do it," club legend Pablo Zabaleta told Sky Sports.
"The way that City have been playing lately, you expect them to score three or four goals in every game. They played against a tough team and it was difficult to create chances. Normally, they create five or six clear chances every game but today was very difficult because Chelsea were fantastic. But in the end the penalty shootout went their way."
Earlier in the day, Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by Manchester United. The point was enough to restore the Reds to the top of the Premier League table but with 11 games remaining their lead stands at just one point. As a result, City are now 1/2 favourites with Sky Bet to retain their Premier League trophy just as they have done with the Carabao Cup.
With City also favourites to win the Champions League and odds-on to lift the FA Cup for the first time under Guardiola, talk of an unprecedented quadruple is not going to go away any time soon. "It is still possible," said Zabaleta. "Let's be positive. They just have to go game by game now. Every single question is about the quadruple now. They have so much quality in that team to go for every single trophy but it is going to be tough."
If there is a concern it will be the injuries that were suffered at Wembley. This trophy came at a price with Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho both facing injury lay-offs. "The two players who are injured now are so important to them," Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports.
Laporte has missed only one Premier League game all season having established himself as the first-choice centre-back. He has also filled in at left-back with Benjamin Mendy unavailable so Guardiola has been robbed of that option too. There are alternatives at centre-back with John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany but it's not ideal.
The loss of Fernandinho once again could be even more problematic. The Brazilian missed two Premier League games either side of Christmas - at home to Crystal Palace and away to Leicester - and City surprisingly lost both of them. With Stones potentially needed in defence, the onus will be on Gundogan to cope in Fernandinho's absence.
The fixture list is not too unkind but it is congested. City host West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening before visiting Bournemouth on Saturday. There is then a rare free midweek before playing Watford at home on the following Saturday. They are all matches that City will expect to win but that only highlights the need to avoid any slip.