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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Picture: JASON CAIRNDUFF/ACTION IMAGES via REUTERS
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Picture: JASON CAIRNDUFF/ACTION IMAGES via REUTERS

London — It is not often Manchester City lose two games on the bounce and it must be a concern for manager Pep Guardiola who will have to do without suspended midfielder Rodri for one more game.

Rodri missed the defeats to Newcastle (League Cup) and Wolves (Premier League) and in both games City failed to take their usual control in midfield.

City face high-flying Arsenal next and Guardiola will have to come up with a way to bolster his midfield master.

These and other talking points from the seventh round of the Premier League season.

Rodri absence leaves City vulnerable: Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola must be even more concerned about facing Premier League title rivals Arsenal next week without Rodri after his side fell to a second consecutive defeat while the midfielder serves a three-match ban.

A midweek League Cup defeat at Newcastle United was followed by a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league on Saturday. In both games they failed to take control in midfield, with Mateo Kovacic unable to deputise adequately for Rodri.

“Rodri is an important player, we know it. We cannot count on him,” Guardiola said. “Kovacic was fine. He was OK. Mateo is an exceptional player and it's the first time he played in his position alone.”

The league campaign is only seven games in but if Arsenal can get a result against a team they lost heavily to last season — a result that halted their title challenge — it would give them hope that City’s dominance can be quelled this season.

Human error highlights VAR limitations in Liverpool defeat: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp did not know where to start in his post-match interviews when trying to understand how the match officials and the VAR had let down his spirited nine-man team in Saturday's 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.

Curtis Jones was sent off when his foot rolled across the top of the ball into Yves Bissouma’s ankle, Luis Diaz's goal was wrongly chalked off for offside and Diogo Jota was booked for brushing against Destiny Udogie who then tripped himself up.

The referees body PGMOL admitted “significant human error” for the Diaz goal being disallowed. Jota was dismissed for a deserved second yellow card but would have stayed on the pitch if the officials were not so harsh in the first instance.

The VAR and his assistant have been replaced for their next matches but that is scant consolation for Klopp and his team, who were sunk by a late own goal. No wonder he said the defeat came in “the most unfair circumstances” with “crazy decisions”.

Everton looking like relegation candidates after Luton loss: Everton may have got their first goal at home this season against Luton Town on Saturday but it was not enough to secure any points and the 2-1 loss to the Hatters leaves them looking very much like early candidates for relegation.

The Toffees’ biggest problem is that they look more like the teams below them in the table than those above, and Luton comfortably out-scrapped them on a rain-swept afternoon as they secured their first-ever win in the Premier League.

Everton’s attack is energetic but toothless, their defence physical but hapless, and no amount of encouragement from coach Sean Dyche seems to lift the players when the chips are down.

Now 16th in the table and only ahead of Luton on goal difference, another couple of results like this will effectively turn the season into one long crisis, and a first relegation since 1950/51 looks a distinct possibility.

Newcastle hitting their stride but injuries a concern: With a high-profile home Champions League encounter against French champions Paris St Germain coming up on Wednesday, everything seems to be falling into place for Newcastle United.

Eddie Howe’s side were largely untroubled in a 2-0 home victory over lowly Burnley on Saturday and have scored 11 goals in their past three games, including an 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United and 1-0 League Cup win over Manchester City.

Newcastle have also kept clean sheets in their past five games in all competitions.

“I think if we can go into any of these Champions League games that we face in confident mood and good form and rhythm, then it gives us the best chance of being successful,” Howe told reporters after the win.

“We want to carry that as long as we can. I think we’re in a good moment.”

However, the positive mood at St James’ Park could be derailed by injuries, with Joelinton seemingly picking up a hamstring strain in the win over Burnley and Callum Wilson, Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman and Joe Willock already sidelined.

Brentford's lack of cutting edge blunting the Bees: Brentford were held to a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Sunday despite scoring first and playing against 10 men for most of the second half after Moussa Niakhate was sent off, extending the London club’s winless Premier League run to five games.

With striker Ivan Toney, the third-top scorer in the league last season, serving a suspension for breaching Football Association betting rules, Brentford were toothless up front despite having several opportunities to score.

They have dropped eight points from winning positions this term and rank second for most big chances missed behind Everton.

“Right now, we are in a spell where we are struggling to get over the line and get three points,” manager Thomas Frank said in an interview on the club’s website.

“After [conceding] we should and could have scored, but on the day we just couldn’t do it. Well done to Nottingham for defending well ... I think we did well in spells, but the final quality — cross, pass, shot — was not there.”


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