Etihad boss Pep Guardiola has admitted before now that Manchester City are struggling to compete with runaway leaders Liverpool this season.
Now Guardiola is facing another headache as the Reds home into view.
City face Jurgen Klopp’s side on Thursday aiming to close the gap on Liverpool, who moved a massive 10 points clear of the champions with a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday.
Liverpool can cut that to seven on Sunday with victory at Southampton.
They are expected to again be without Fernandinho in midfield, while Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne are certainly missing with the latter a major doubt for the forthcoming face-off with Guardiola’s side.
De Bruyne missed six weeks earlier in the season but has featured in City’s last four matches.
He complained of muscle pain after being substituted after 70 minutes in the 2-1 defeat at Leicester City on Boxing Day, and has sustained what The Mirror have described as a ‘slight knock’.