Manchester City have started the season well and look on course to retain their Premier League title.
The only name keeping them from top spot at the moment is a certain “VAR”. Bar some questionable decisions from the VAR, Guardiola’s men could easily be top of the league at the moment but it’s no cause for alarm – at least it seems so.
Asides their dominant performances, Guardiola has earned a lot of praise for building a City side with adequate squad depth and competition in all positions on the pitch.
A quick revisit to their opening game of the season against West Ham and the point of squad depth was well highlighted there.
There was plenty of talk around the strength of Pep Guardiola’s bench, with the likes of Aguero, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Nicolas Otamendi, Claudio Bravo, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva all named as substitutes.
City went on to win the game with a resounding 5-0 scoreline and that sort of tells you a story.
Sky Sports pundit, Jose Mourinho, even went so far as to suggest that Man City’s ‘B team’ could even challenge for a top-four spot this season.
He might have a point as the aforementioned names could easily walk into the starting lineups of City’s rival teams.
However, a closer look at the City squad shows one position is significantly lacking in “quality” compared to others.
When Zinchenko went down clutching his hamstring in the 83rd minute at the Etihad on Saturday evening Manchester City were faced with finishing the game with 10 men.
The left-back received treatment by club medical staff before managing to carry on for the last 10 minutes of the game but luckily for Guardiola, the defender brushed off any worries after the final whistle when he admitted it was cramp that had forced him to go down.
For a squad with so much strength in depth at the moment there is little cover at left-back.
In fact, playing new signing Joao Cancelo out of his favoured right-back position would appear to be the best option should Zinchenko drop out of the team due to injury.
In one of the more surprising moves of the summer transfer window, the club decided to bring Angelino back to the Etihad from PSV Eindhoven. The 22-year-old had a buy-back clause that City cashed in on and was swiftly handed the No 12 shirt.
It was widely reported that the plan for the Spaniard was to be a regular part of the first team set up this season and there were no plans to send him out on loan.
Yet, the defender has missed out on the match-day squads for the first two league games of the season and had to settle for a place as an unused substitute in the Community Shield against Liverpool.
Guardiola used the pre-season tour of Asia alternating between Zinchenko and Angelino but it soon became clear who his first choice was going to be.
While rustiness and perhaps nerves can be used as an excuse for his first performance against West Ham, the Spaniard did little to show over the games in Asia to suggest he is going to be fighting for a place in the starting lineup this season.
Then there’s Benjamin Mendy.
The Frenchman is still regaining his fitness after another long spell out injured and Guardiola has yet to see a consistent run of form from the World Cup winner.
Which then leads to City’s new recruit from Juventus Joao Cancelo.
Despite being known to be able to play on both flanks, his natural position is at right-back – a position well covered by Kyle Walker, which would make him a not so natural replacement for the left-back berth.
In actual terms, the 25-year-old was brought to be a backup for Kyle Walker but circumstances could perhaps see a different story.
With question marks over Mendy’s fitness levels and consistency, left-back is a problem that Guardiola needs to be wary of.
And while Kyle Walker may have been wary over his place in the team, it could end up being Angelino and Mendy who have more of an issue with the Portuguese international’s arrival.