Premier League co-favourites Manchester City are once again down to two fit senior centre-halves following the knee injury sustained by new signing Martin Demichelis.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are 2/1 to win the Premier League this term, the same price as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, but an inability to properly address defensive deficiencies over the summer sees them lacking cover at the back.
With captain Vincent Kompany not expected to play again until the start of October and right-back Micah Richards, who can also play in the middle of defence, yet to feature this term a lot rests on the shoulders of Joleon Lescott and the fit again Matija Nastasic.
Pellegrini will be praying they can stay injury-free, as the decision to play midfielder Javi Garcia beside Lescott in their 3-2 loss at Cardiff backfired in spectacular fashion.
City’s defence was all at sea at set pieces and the memory of Fraizer Campbell heading home from two corners in eight minutes will give England goalie Joe Hart nightmares for weeks to come.
Over £90m was spent on bringing new players to the Etihad Stadium this summer, but the £4m paid to Atletico Madrid for 32-year-old Demichelis as the transfer window drew to a close was the Sky Blues’ only outlay on a defender.
Considering the business conducted by Liverpool on the final day of the window, when Reds manager Brendan Rodgers brought in centre-halves Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori for a combined £25m, that decision is all the more puzzling.
There were clearly options available to the former Real Madrid and Malaga gaffer, with young Greek stopper Kyriakos Papadopoulos also thought to be available for around £12m, with his club Schalke keen to do a deal.
An away trip to face former manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke is next up in the league followed by the visit of bitter rivals Manchester Utd, with a Champions League tie in the Czech Republic against Viktoria Plzen sandwiched in between.
Should the Citizens’ season start to unravel during that time, the 2011/12 champions will have to take a long, hard look at their player recruitment strategy.