Manchester City fans are clinging to the slightest bit of hope that Sergio Aguero won’t receive a ban for elbowing Winston Reid.
Footage shows referee Andre Marriner had a clear view of the altercation that occurred in City’s 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday. This doesn’t mean Marriner certainly witnessed Aguero elbowing the defender, but it points to incompetence if he didn’t.
If the official did see the collision but didn’t consider it to be violent conduct, then Aguero could escape punishment.
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But the cards will have to fall in City’s favour in order for that to happen. It’s a clear-cut elbow and the Argentinian can have no complaints if he is slapped with a three-match ban, as Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini was for elbowing Robert Huth last season.
To make matters worse for Aguero, he has been ruled out of the Argentina squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers with a calf injury. Depending on the severity of the problem, the 28-year-old could miss the Manchester derby even if he does avoid an FA ban.
Guardiola's three solutions
Something has to break in the September 10 clash, which pits Pep Guardiola against Jose Mourinho. Both clubs have a 100 per cent record through three games but it’s City whose flawless start will be most at risk if Aguero misses out.
How does Guardiola ensure his team remains a threat at Old Trafford without their star man? It’s an almighty task, but here are three possible solutions for the former Bayern Munich boss to consider.
Start Kelechi Iheanacho
The most likely solution to Guardiola’s headache is to give Iheanacho his first league start of the season.
The 19-year-old Nigerian burst onto the scene last season, scoring 14 goals in all competitions - with most coming from off the bench.
An exciting talent, there’s no better stage for Iheanacho to fill Aguero’s boots than at the Theatre of Dreams.
Adopt a false 9
Guardiola is big fan of the false 9, using the system at Barcelona and at times with Bayern Munich.
Lionel Messi’s technical skill made him the perfect man to use in the role at the Camp Nou, but there isn’t a clear player that can play the position for City. Kevin de Bruyne, perhaps?.
Guardiola has established himself as one of the most forward-thinking coaches in Europe but changing the system that he’s worked all summer to ingrain seems one step too far.
Move Nolito to the middle
Nolito has impressed since his summer arrival from Celta Vigo, scoring three goals and assisting two in his five City appearances.
Guardiola has used the 29-year-old on the left wing, where he has flourished, but he can also play as a striker.
Playing the Spaniard through the middle would also allow Guardiola to play Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne on the wings, with Leroy Sane also an option.
What should Guardiola do if Aguero misses out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!