It really is the worse-case scenario: ahead of one of your biggest games of the season, your star player picks up an injury that will keep him out of that fixture and a few more besides.
That is exactly the fate that has befallen Pep Guardiola and Manchester City with the news that Sergio Aguero was involved in a car accident on Thursday. The Argentine goal-machine has apparently broken several ribs and will be out for the foreseeable future, if true.
That means he will miss Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in what can be very lightly pencilled in as a title six-pointer.
Can the Citizens cope without Aguero? Here’s the rest of the team news for Chelsea vs Manchester City and the rest of the weekend’s Premier League action.
Huddersfield Town vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12:30pm)
The Terriers’ shot-shy performances will not be aided by the continued absence of strikers Steve Mounie (foot) and Colin Quaner (knee), while there’s no return date confirmed for Kasey Palmer (thigh) or Daniel Williams (foot) as yet.
A considerable loss for Spurs is Mousa Dembele, whose ankle injury will see him out until after the international break. Victor Wanyama and Danny Rose are still on the treatment table, while Serge Aurier is suspended. The good news is that Christian Eriksen should be fit to start after suffering from illness this week.
Bournemouth vs Leicester (Saturday, 3pm)
It’s still a question of months, rather than weeks, until the return of Adam Federici and Callum Wilson, while Tyrone Mings is not expected back in a red shirt until late October as he struggles to fight off a back injury.
Jamie Vardy is a major injury doubt for Leicester – the hip problem he has been suffering from for a couple of weeks is not improving. One of his possible replacements, Leonardo Ulloa, will be assessed prior to the game after suffering a head injury against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm)
Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Rojo are the long-term absentees for United, and they have been joined in the physio’s room lately by Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial, who are all considered doubtful for this game.
It never rains but it pours, and now goalless Crystal Palace must make do without last season’s top scorer Christian Benteke, who has suffered knee ligament damage. Wilfried Zaha may return shortly after the international break, and late checks will be made on Ruben Loftus-Cheek (thigh) and James Tomkins (illness) ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.
Stoke vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)
Stoke’s central defensive crisis shows no signs of abating, with Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins-Indi and Kevin Wimmer all definitely out of Saturday’s game. Geoff Cameron may return from his hamstring strain, however.
The Saints can enjoy an almost clean bill of health, for once, with only Matt Targett on the list of absentees.
West Brom vs Watford (Saturday, 3pm)
West Brom’s treatment room is looking rather desolate at the moment, with only Oliver Burke (thigh) keeping the physio company.
Miguel Britos returns from suspension for Watford but Sebastian Prodl, Younes Kaboul and Craig Cathcart are still absent. They will be joined in the stands by Nathaniel Chalobah, whose knee injury could keep him out until the tail-end of 2017.
West Ham vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)
This is a huge game for both of these teams, and West Ham will be hoping that Michail Antonio can shake off a groin strain in time. James Collins and Pedro Obiang are out, but Manuel Lanzini may be fit enough to play some part.
The Swans have no new injury fears to worry about, with Kyle Bartley, Nathan Dyer and Seung-Yueng Ki their long-term absentees.
Chelsea vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm)
David Luiz sits out the final match of his suspension after getting sent off against Arsenal, while Danny Drinkwater isn’t quite fit enough to return to the first team fold. Otherwise, Chelsea are at full strength for this one.
It’s been a nightmare week for Manchester City on the injury front, with Sergio Aguero’s broken ribs not even the worst news for them. Benjamin Mendy has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, and faces up to nine months on the sidelines. Vincent Kompany is rated as 50/50.
Arsenal vs Brighton (Sunday, 12pm)
Danny Welbeck tweaked his groin against Chelsea, and he along with Alex Iwobi, Callum Chambers and Francis Coquelin are definitely out until after the international break as Arsenal seek to build on some patches of encouraging form.
Brighton make their first ever league trip to the Emirates Stadium without Biram Kayal and Steve Sidwell, while Tomer Hemed starts his three-match ban after getting sent off last time out.
Everton vs Burnley (Sunday, 2:15pm)
Ronald Koeman is coming under increasing pressure at Everton, and he may have to do without defenders Phil Jagielka (hamstring) and Michael Keane, against his former club, who suffered a badly cut foot last time out. They join long-term laid off Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, Bruno Funes-Mori and Yannick Bolasie.
Sean Dyche has a list of four absentees to contend with: Dean Marney (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee), Nakhi Wells (ankle) and Tom Heaton (shoulder).
Newcastle vs Liverpool (4:30pm)
Paul Dummett and Massimo Haidara are definitely out of this quintessential Premier League fixture, but the good news for Newcastle fans is that Florian Lejeune should be well fit enough to take his place in the starting eleven.
Liverpool welcome back Sadio Mane from suspension and are back to full strength apart from the long-term injured: Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Bogdan.