Sergio Aguero Return Leaves Tough Edin Dzeko Call for Manuel Pellegrini

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City FC warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Sergio Aguero, who returned to first-team action at Anfield on Sunday and had no adverse reaction to his hamstring problem, is in line for a starting place against Sunderland on Wednesday evening in a game Manchester City simply have to win.

Defeat to Liverpool has left them seven points adrift of the leaders with two games in hand. No longer is the destiny of the title in their own hands—they are now relying on Brendan Rodgers' side dropping points.

Aguero has scored 26 goals in 29 games this season despite his campaign being affected by three separate injury layoffs. He looked free from any injury troubles but lacking in match sharpness in his cameo against Liverpool, and he will be desperate to play a part in City's run-in after missing 18 games since suffering a calf injury against Arsenal on December 14.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:   Sergio Aguero of Manchester City battles with James McArthur of Wigan Athletic during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic at the Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2014 in Manchester, England
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

It's a run of injuries that has disrupted City and halted Aguero's best run of form since joining the club in 2011. His last goal came at Tottenham on January 29 during a first half City completely dominated, with the Argentine unplayable for the majority of it.

His return is clearly a boost to Manuel Pellegrini, but it also causes a selection dilemma. In Aguero's absence, City altered their formation, reverting to just one central striker, with David Silva moving into the No. 10 role just off the frontman.

It's a move that has worked. Silva has flourished, as his ability to unlock defences with his passing is far better utilised when he has licence to roam. He's brilliant from the left, but he's devastating from a central position close to the striker, and Pellegrini would be foolish to move the club's most important attacking player, especially given the quality of his performances in recent weeks.

That means Edin Dzeko's place comes under threat. The Bosnian has been City's first choice during Aguero's period on the treatment table, with Alvaro Negredo's collapse in form and Stevan Jovetic's continued injury struggles leaving him the No.1 striker at the club.

He's performed well, very often leading the line with distinction, a new desire in his play evident. His attitude has been impressive, and he's been deserving of his place as the focal point of City's attack.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City beats Jussi Jaaskelainen of West Ham United to score their second goal during the Capital One Cup Semi-Final, Second Leg match between West Ham United and Manchester City at Boleyn Ground on
Ian Walton/Getty Images

But Aguero is a world-class talent, a rare breed of striker who can win a match in an instant, conjuring moments of magic seemingly at will. He's a match-winning striker whose pace strikes fear into defenders.

As soon as he is ready to start, City should look to play him as a lone striker, with Silva in behind. It's a frightening prospect.

Meanwhile, Yaya Toure will be out for up to two weeks, as confirmed by Pellegrini earlier today. The City boss said at a press conference, "Yaya has a muscle injury. We will see with the doctor how many days. Maybe it is not so hard as we thought at the beginning, but I think he needs at least 10 days or two weeks to recover." 

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.