Manchester City have been handed a double injury blow ahead of their game against Watford on Wednesday (3 January) after striker Gabriel Jesus and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne suffered injuries during their 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace on Sunday (31 December).
Pep Guardiola's side's 18-game winning run was finally ended by the Eagles, but two dropped points were only part of the concern with reports suggesting that Jesus could be out for two months.
The Brazilian striker was in tears as he came off after 23 minutes and the manager has now confirmed that he is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a leg injury. The incident took place after 11 minutes when the striker did the split as he was wrong-footed, but seemed to recover and continue. He looked to be in pain as he attempted a shot ten minutes later and was immediately replaced by Sergio Aguero.
De Bruyne, meanwhile, was victim of a hard tackle from Jason Puncheon during added time and after receiving treatment on the pitch, the Belgian midfielder was stretchered off. Guardiola believes that it could just be a kick and not a serious injury, but the midfielder remains a doubt for the game against the Hornets.
The Spanish coach understands the physical nature of the Premier League, but has called on the referees to protect the players more. City are 14 points ahead of Chelsea who have overtaken Manchester United in second place, and the Palace game was the first time Guardiola's side looked vulnerable and the Eagles could have handed them their first defeat as Luka Milivojevic had a last- minute penalty saved by Ederson.
"Gabriel will be out for a little bit more than one month, hopefully," Guardiola said, as quoted on Sky Sports.
"Kevin, we will see tomorrow what he has; whether it's just a kick or something else. Hopefully just a huge kick but maybe he will not be ready for the Watford game.
"We were lucky (with challenges) in previous games. I admire the physicality of the Premier League but the referee has to protect the players - that's all I ask. Hopefully it won't be tough," the Spanish coach added.