Pep Guardiola has avoided his worst nightmare ahead of Man City vs Liverpool FC

They&aposre sitting pretty in the Premier League. Top of the pile as they usually are. Not to mention qualification for the Champions League knockout stages has already been secured with two games to spare. Given City have not come close to reaching their scintillating best, you can&apost ask for a much better start to a season.

But a defeat to Arsenal and a draw with Chelsea has uncovered a frailty this season. Pep Guardiola&aposs side can be beaten. No other side has been as good at beating City – apart from maybe Tottenham – in recent years than Liverpool. That&aposs who&aposs coming up next, far from a gentle easing back into action.

To make matters worse, City have found themselves with a lengthy injury list ahead of the massive match. Kevin De Bruyne is a long-term absentee and John Stones was already sidelined but joining them on the casualty list recently has been Erling Haaland, Mateo Kovacic, Mathues Nunes, Nathan Ake, Ederson and Sergio Gomez.

It&aposs not clear yet just how many of the injuries are serious and who will be ruled out of action but so many concerns are hardly ideal and the prospect of them all being out is a daunting one. Guardiola likes a small squad by design but in these rare instances, the pitfalls of one can rear their ugly head.

So you can only imagine everyone&aposs fear last week when Rodri didn&apost take part in a Spain match after complaining of some &aposdiscomfort&apos. There must have been hearts in mouths throughout the blue side of Manchester.

It has already been proven beyond doubt this season that Rodri is the most crucial cog in the City machine. Even the free-scoring Haaland – 69 goals in 71 games now, by the way – would not pose as big a loss.

City were without Rodri for three matches in succession for the first time since he signed for the club earlier in the campaign. A silly red card against Sheffield United earning him a lengthy suspension. City lost all three of those matches.

The Spaniard likely wouldn&apost have played in the Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle but certainly would have in the league against Wolves and Arsenal. Without Rodri at Molineux, City put in an unrecognisable performance in which they asserted no control whatsoever. They were better against the Gunners but still lost.

City had won every game comfortably with Rodri back in the side after his ban until last Sunday&aposs whirlwind 4-4 draw with Chelsea, in which the midfielder looked to have scored the winner before a late Ruben Dias mistake gave away a penalty. The contrast between City without Rodri and with Rodri is huge, so to be without him against Liverpool would tip the odds in the Reds&apos favour.