Pep Guardiola's big problem at Man City

Pep Guardiola's big problem at Man City

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Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on Sunday confirmed the slump Pep's side are going through. The 'Cityzens' have now lost two in a row in the Premier League for the first time since 2018 and have now lost three in a row in domestic competitions following their elimination from the Carabao Cup. These three negative results have coincided with the suspension imposed on Rodri, a key player in Pep's scheme, and it is no coincidence.

Rodrigo Hernandez's run-in with Gibbs White cost him dearly. The City pivot was shown a straight red card in the win over Nottingham Forest on 23 September for a confrontation with the Englishman and grabbing him by the throat. The Premiership decided to sanction Rodri with three matches and he missed the matches against Newcastle (1-0), in Carabao, and Wolves (2-1) and Arsenal (1-0) in the Premiership. 

A serious loss for Guardiola, who without the Spanish pivot has only managed to win in their Champions League fixture. Yesterday, in the defeat against Arsenal, the 'Rodridependence' in his scheme was confirmed. Since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2019, Rodri has played virtually every game, averaging 44.5 appearances per season. 

Rodri also scored the goal in Istanbul that secured the Cityzens' first and only Champions League title in their history. 

"I'm angry, I don't like to play with 10 players. He has to control his emotions. I can get a yellow card, but Rodri can't. He has to be careful. He has to be careful.

These were Pep Guardiola's words after Rodri's sending off against Nottingham Forest. The Manchester City boss knew what was coming: three games without his key player in midfield, without the anchorman who won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League last season.

At 27, Rodri has established himself as one of the best pivots in the world under Pep. He brings stability to the team, and City need it. Without the Spanish midfielder the team suffers a lot at the back. There is no doubt that Rodri arrived at City in the 19/20 season to become Fernandinho's successor. Despite his youth, he had experience playing as a lone midfielder and as part of a double pivot.  

Rodrigo Hernandez is far from the typical Spanish central midfielder profile. Tall and slim, he possesses an excellent engine that allows him to cover a significant amount of ground and, particularly, acting as the sole pivot anchoring the midfield, defending opposing counter-attacks. He is also a finisher. He has already scored 20 goals for England in 215 appearances. During the 2018/19 La Liga season, he had the second highest percentage of duels won. 

Rodri, however, has now finished his three-match ban. The pivot will be available for the following fixtures against Brighton, Young Boys (Champions League) and Manchester United in the derby.

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