Man City Q&A: Should Guardiola have signed a striker, the latest with De Bruyne & Leicester match predictions

Our football writer answers your questions on the biggest talking points surrounding the Premier League champions.

<p>Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne. Credit: Getty.</p>

Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne. Credit: Getty.

The end of the international break means all eyes will very much be back on the Premier League this weekend, with Manchester City facing a tough test away to Leicester City on Saturday.

Ahead of the upcoming round of fixtures, we’ve asked our football reporter Michael Plant to cast his eyes over fans’ most pressing questions surrounding City.

Q. Will the signing of Jack Grealish be enough for City to defend their title?

By adding Grealish to their ranks, City have undoubtedly strengthened their options out wide and in midfield, depending on where the England international lines up. The former Aston Villa captain is a unique player and possesses qualities many of his team-mates simply don’t, but whether he drastically improves the squad is another matter.

Grealish played in two England games over the break. Credit: Getty.

City’s roster actually looked a lot more balanced last season when they had Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia in their ranks. Despite that, I have no doubt the champions are capable of claiming another Premier League crown this season, but that will depend on Ferran Torres’s ability to perform at a consistently high standard up front, and City’s capacity to play without a centre-forward when required.

Q. Should City have signed a striker in the summer?

If Pep Guardiola doesn’t win the title this year, the question of why he didn’t buy a striker will keep cropping up. Evidently they wanted one, as the failed attempt to purchase Harry Kane demonstrated. Yet without the Tottenham Hotspur striker, suddenly the club are potentially facing an entire campaign with just one recognised striker in Torres.

That might be enough for Guardiola, who coasted to the crown last season while operating without a centre-forward for most of the term. But the problem remains that if those tactics don’t work as effectively in 2021/22 then City have no real alternative, no opportunity to throw on a striker to pounce on a half chance in the box. Perhaps City are playing the long game and waiting for the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to become available, but even still, I feel the lack of options has burdened this team with an unnecessary achilles heel.

Q. What’s the latest with the injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden?

Both players are back in training after respective knocks. The club’s official Twitter account released drone footage of the pair going through a session on Tuesday, while separate images showed De Bruyne training with the rest of the first-team squad. Foden doesn’t seem at that stage in his recovery yet and was pictured running on sand in training, suggesting he could still be a few weeks away. As for De Bruyne, if he’s involved in contact training again, he may well feature against Leicester City on Saturday.

Q. Do Leicester offer a tough test after the international break?

Yes, without doubt! The Foxes beat City 5-2 last season at the Etihad and the Blues always seem to struggle against Jamie Vardy, who has scored more times against Pep Guardiola than other opposition player the Catalan has faced in his entire career. Brendan Rodgers’s men have started the season well and have gained six points from the three games so far.

A big advantage for Leicester is they’ve had far fewer players away on international duty in the last 10 days than City have, with Kasper Schmeichel, Caglar Soyuncyu, Luke Thomas, Timothy Castagna and Youri Tielemans the only real starters to depart over the break.

I actually think City will drop points in the Midlands this weekend with Guardiola given little time to prepare his players on the training ground in the build up to the game.