Manchester City were made to work hard for their 3-1 win against a resilient Everton on Saturday afternoon. Their performance put them five points behind Manchester City but problems within the side was still evident. Had it have not been for Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, Pep Guardiola could well have been looking at a different scoreline.
Since their defeat at Norwich City, Manchester City put together three consecutive wins, scoring 14 and conceding none before their game at Goodison Park. Against a struggling Everton side, City’s defence was porous, and the result could well have been different had Ederson not made a vital save at 2-1.
This begs the question as to whether Manchester City need to strengthen or not in January. Following injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, City have been rumoured to sign a defender in January, but they may not need to. Joao Cancelo is currently sitting on the bench following his move from Juventus in the summer and as one of Europe’s top right-backs, he ought to be starting.
Cancelo is this Manchester City team would allow Kyle Walker to play as a central defender, something we’ve seen him do before on multiple occasions both domestically and internationally. This would certainly ease Guardiola’s defensive woes and it would also allow Fernandinho back into midfield.
But it may not be as simple as that. Guardiola has said that Manchester City won’t be making any signings in the winter window because they don’t have the money to pay a substantial fee like they’ve been accustomed to. “That is not my business but in January we are not going to buy because we don’t have money to pay a huge amount in the summer so we cannot do it in winter,” he told Sky Sports.
Nicolas Otamendi is Manchester City’s only fit central defender and should the Argentine or Fernandinho pick up an injury, Pep Guardiola will be left with 18-year-old Eric Garcia and 17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis. This isn’t the City we’ve known over the past couple of seasons under Guardiola and it may be his toughest challenge yet if they are to retain their Premier League crown.
The Spanish tactician may be cautious with his starting XI against Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League Group Stages on Tuesday before their Premier League fixture against Wolves. Guardiola will then be crossing everything that his first team defenders don’t pick up an injury during the international fixtures.
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