Manchester City maintained their magnificent start to the season against Leicester but the win at the King Power Stadium came at a cost with an injury that could keep John Stones out for six weeks.
Stones limped off after half an hour of Saturday’s 2-0 win after pulling up with a hamstring problem, so Eliaquim Mangala came on for his first Premier League appearance since the demolition of Liverpool on September 9.
City boss Pep Guardiola said after the game that he expects the central defender to be out for between four and six weeks, meaning Stones is likely to miss next month’s Manchester derby and the visit of Tottenham.
“He will be out for a long time, four to six weeks I think,” said Guardiola, whose team have 12 fixtures in all competitions during the remainder of 2017.
“It will be tough because the calendar is so demanding. Before here he played 90 minutes and 90 minutes for England, then before that another 90 minutes and 90 minutes and 90 minutes and today this happens, but the demand is a lot.
“We have a lot of games and John is in a moment where he is playing amazingly so, of course, we will miss him.
“We don’t have a lot of central defenders so we are going to suffer, but we will find a solution.”
Nicolas Otamendi was suspended at Leicester so Vincent Kompany started the match after being sidelined since the end of August with a calf problem.
With Stones now set for a spell on the sidelines, Guardiola hopes Kompany can remain fit to help ease the loss of another centre-half.
“I am really impressed with Vincent. After more than two months (out) and just one game with the national team it is so complicated to come back,” said Guardiola.
“But we know what a competitor he is and how strong he is as a defender, both with the ball and without the ball. He helped us a lot at the end of last season to win seven games in a row.
“Hopefully he can be fit and safe for the next period of games.”
Kompany must have worried that his long-awaited return would be short-lived when he tripped Jamie Vardy after only two minutes.
Vicente Iborra’s defence-splitting through ball set Vardy through on goal, with Kompany desperately stretching to make a challenge. The speedy striker would have been away, and you can only assume the presence of Stones nearby saved Kompany from a red card.
Whether Stones would have caught Vardy will be debated, but it can be the only reason why referee Graham Scott felt a yellow card would suffice – and Guardiola agreed.
“It was only a yellow card, nothing more,” he said.
However, Leicester manager Claude Puel had a different view and felt Kompany should have been sent off.
“He was with Jamie as the last player and the other defender cannot come back on him as Jamie is quick,” said Puel.
“Things like this have an effect on the game but this is a very good team – the best in Europe. It is a pity because we did well to make a result at times.
“The goals when they came were tough for us because then Manchester City can keep the ball well and make it very difficult.”
Goals either side of half-time from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne, both of them lovely moves from Guardiola’s team, saw City earn an 11th victory in the first 12 Premier League matches and in the process extended their club-record run of consecutive wins in all competitions to 16 fixtures.
They did it without Sergio Aguero, who posted a cryptic Tweet ahead of the match.
The striker declared himself fit, despite going to hospital while on international duty with Argentina because of a dizzy spell. He was named on the bench and posted a series of facepalm emojis and the word ‘tranquilo’ – which translates to calm.
The timing of Aguero’s tweet – 1.51pm – was unusual for a player involved in a 3pm kick-off and he was an unused substitute against Leicester.