Manchester City could hardly have been handed a tougher week than the one facing them - starting with Saturday's Premier League showdown against Chelsea.

Over the course of eight days, Pep Guardiola's side face successive away games against three of the top teams in world football, with PSG and Liverpool up next after the visit to Stamford Bridge.

And to top it all off, the City boss been dealing with an injury mini-crisis which saw John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko all ruled out of their Carabao Cup win over Wycombe.

City made light of their fitness issues in midweek, with a team containing eight academy graduates and six debutants sweeping aside the Chairboys in a 6-1 thrashing.

But Guardiola will need as many of his senior stars as possible for trips to face two of City's title rivals either side of a Champions League clash with PSG.

Bernardo Silva and Pep Guardiola looking relaxed despite facing a tough eight days (



With a week still remaining of September, it seems premature to talk about about eight days that could make or break City's season.

But defeat to a Chelsea side that has won their last three encounters would leave the defending champions six points adrift of the Premier League leaders.

And if they were to then suffer the same fate at Anfield, they could find themselves with nine points to make up on not one but two of the favourites for the title this season.

In between there is the trip to Paris that most would have pinpointed as the toughest fixture in City's Champions League group - and the crucial one which could have the most significant on their chances of topping the group.

Facing the media ahead of Saturday's trip to Chelsea, Guardiola said it was irrelevant that City had lost three times to Thomas Tuchel's side in the space of a few weeks at the end of last season.

The City boss didn't play his strongest team in either their FA Cup clash or their Premier League encounter - or, arguably, in the Champions League final when his over-thinking and tactical tinkering backfired.

He will want to field his strongest possible line-up against a side who have won all their games this season barring a defensive masterclass against Liverpool, when they held on for a point after Reece James was sent off.

Guardiola was handed a boost when Stones, Laporte and Rodri returned to training this week, while Chelsea have their own injury concerns with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic sidelined.

Lionel Messi is a doubt for Paris Saint-Germain's clash against Man City next week (



So do PSG, who are sweating on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Tuesday's clash against City.

The Blues dominated PSG for three quarters of their two-legged semi-final last season, but Mauricio Pochettino's side have since strengthened with the signings of Messi, Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi and Gianluigi Donnarumma over the summer.

And the Ligue 1 leaders will be desperate for a result after being held by Club Bruges in their Champions League opener.

After that, City face a trip to Anfield, where they won 4-1 last season to claim their first victory at the stadium since 2003.

City's Phil Foden stole the show against Liverpool at Anfield last season (


Getty Images)

Phil Foden starred in that game and will hope to do so again a week on Sunday after his virtuoso performance against Wycombe in midweek.

But it has to be remembered that Jurgen Klopp's side were playing Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in that clash back in February, and that City benefited from uncharacteristic mistakes from Reds goalkeeper Alisson.

It will be a very different proposition to face a Liverpool side who are currently joint top of the table, have Virgil van Dijk back from injury and have scored three goals in each of their last four games.

But while it is too early to talk about a season-defining week, if City can pass all three tests over the next nine days it will reveal a lot about their chances of finishing on top both domestically and in Europe.

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