Henrikh Mkhitaryan has suffered an injury scare whilst on international duty with Armenia, prompting concerns over his availability for the Manchester derby on September 10.
The 27-year-old was forced off with a knee problem in the first half of Armenia’s 3-0 defeat to the Czech Republic after a nasty collision with Marek Sukhy.
More or less every single Manchester United called for Mkhitaryan’s inclusion in the upcoming derby after the midfielder produced a superb display from the bench against Hull City.
However, the Armenian may well have to join Marouane Fellaini on the sidelines for the clash with Pep Guardiola’s side.
As if the norm with every Guardiola side, a hallmark of this new-look Manchester City side is their unique positional set-up, with full-backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna often playing as second wingers, whilst Fernandinho, a central midfielder, occupies a kind of sweeper role. Such a model, theoretically, makes it difficult for opposition sides to play through – or in behind – this defence.
But as shown against Sunderland, Man City are far from perfecting this defensive model. Jermaine Defoe’s goal came as a result of a passage of quick, direct passing that bamboozled Guardiola’s back four, who, due to their zonal style, failed to pick up the Englishman.
It goes without saying that Mkhitaryan, the man with 32 assists from last season, would be the centrepiece to picking apart a back four that clearly still requires time to develop. Losing Mkhitaryan would signal a massive blow to Jose Mourinho’s carefully constructed game plan.