Naturally, Rodri starts when he is available, so it is a relief that he will be ready again for Manchester City on Wednesday. However, for the first time in a long time, it might be better for the midfielder to miss a game.
If Rodri were removed from the City side, the entire structure might fall apart like a central jenga block standing alone. precisely what has occurred this week.
The Spaniard received a three-match suspension as a result of his idiocy in putting his hands on Morgan Gibbs-White’s throat. Two of those matches have already been played, and both of them ended in defeat. Now, Rodri most likely wouldn’t have played in the Carabao Cup loss to Newcastle anyhow, but at Wolves, where his absence was obvious, he most definitely would have.
Prior to the game, Pep Guardiola dismissed the impact of his absence by joking that he would still have his starting XI but that none of them could replace him. At Molineux, City’s lynchpin loss was the primary cause of almost all of their issues.
The Wolves’ quick counterattacks frequently stretched and exposed City’s defense, which made it difficult for them to regain control of the game. Without Rodri’s calm and collected distribution in the center, they were unable to maintain possession for the extended durations they are accustomed to. This led to a hectic game of turnovers and transitions that City were unable to handle.
It’s difficult to hold someone accountable for falling short of the greatest defensive midfielder in the competition, but Mateo Kovacic didn’t even come close. Since transferring to the Etihad, the Croatian has shown promise as a roving No. 8, but he was expected to be the obedient sitter against Wolves.
Kovacic handled the ball far too carelessly. If they reached the receiver at all, his passes frequently lacked conviction and left them with work to do. He continued to attempt the crazy runs that he is so skilled at, but when you attempt them as the No. 6, there is a greater possibility that they would fail. Cleaning up after you is your responsibility; Rodri does not do it.
Kovacic was fortunate it wasn’t 2-0 at halftime when he got dispossessed while attempting to carry the ball forward, leaving a huge gap for Wolves to exploit. The opening goal was completely attributable to Kovacic’s weak delivery to Phil Foden’s heels. Just after the hour mark, Kovacic was hooked by Kalvin Phillips, which tells its own tale.
Kovacic can’t play there again, at least not without taking a huge risk, it seems clear. What could RB Leipzig and Arsenal do if Wolves had such glee against him? The crucial match against the Gunners this weekend, which will mark the conclusion of Rodri’s suspension, is of particular worry. At the Emirates, Guardiola is a player.
Does Kovacic receive another chance, attributing his performance at Wolves to a bad day? The most unlikely of starts for Phillips? Although it’s still difficult to notice, the likelihood has grown. Is Matheus Nunes considered to be the one or just a means of attack? Could Rico Lewis or another defender be sent there after performing well in an upside-down position?
Guardiola has few, and all of his options are less than ideal. This could suggest that Guardiola should test-drive a different player against Arsenal while leaving Rodri on the bench in Leipzig.
Even if it turns out to be Kovacic once more, whomever steps into Rodri’s shoes at the Emirates will need as much experience as they can get, especially before facing an in-form and self-assured Arsenal team. especially though Leipzig are a dangerous team, City should feel confident in defeating them having putting seven past them the previous year, especially though the first leg was drawn in Germany.
Given the little risk of City losing points in the group stage, it might be advantageous to take the chance of not playing Rodri when he’s available in order to give someone else some much-needed playing time before a more difficult test. Three consecutive losses, though, might have a negative impact on City’s confidence going into a crucial game.