Manchester City suffered their second Premier League defeat of the season after a brace from Adama Traore in the final 10 minutes put the reigning champions eight points behind leaders Liverpool. Dropping five points from their opening four home games, it’s only the second time City have failed to find the in 45 league games. Injuries have certainly caught up with Pep Guardiola’s side, and it’s making them look vulnerable.
“We were not at our best. We had chances to score but it was a bad day and we lost the game,” said Guardiola post defeat. “We did not make good process, we had problems in that sense. We are a team that plays a specific way but it is a bad day, that happens sometimes.”
Where is it going wrong for Manchester City?
Injuries are playing their part in Manchester City’s The absence of Belgium international Kevin de Bruyne in Manchester City’s side is evident but Guardiola has other players who can deputise for the time being while their real problems arise with their defence.
Nicolas Otamendi has been a great servant to Manchester City but question marks over his decision making has cost Manchester City on more than one occasion. But as City’s only fit central defender, Guardiola has no option but to play him.
John Stones has played just two Premier League games for City this season after suffering a setback but should be available for selection once again after the international break. Aymeric Laporte, who is arguably Manchester City’s best defender, and perhaps the Premier League’s behind Virgil van Dijk, is expected to return in February 2020.
The Frenchman’s absence is causing Guardiola the biggest headache, with midfielder Fernandinho deputising in defence. This is perhaps what’s made this City side so vulnerable.
They’ve taken Fernandinho, who is their most important midfielder for what Guardiola is trying to achieve, and put him in central defence. His qualities are missing in midfield while many pundits have suggested that the Spaniard should opt to play Kyle Walker in central defence, with Joao Cancelo coming in at right-back.
The chopping and changing is causing many problems defensively for Manchester City and it’s put them eight points behind Liverpool. For Manchester City to even come close to retaining their Premier League crown now, they’re going to have to get six points against Liverpool, which is highly doable but while the European champions don’t look like losing, City have shown weaknesses which have been exploited.
The absence of De Bruyne and Leroy Sane has taken the creativity and pace of this Manchester City side while the body language of Pep Guardiola shows that he’s frustrated. This was the season that many suggested they should be able to retain their title with relative ease, with many suggesting that Liverpool would drop off after their Champions League win but in actual fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Focus shifting to the Champions League?
Guardiola has a lot to answer for but if there’s one man that can turn things around, it’s the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager. But a segment of the Kick Off suggested that Guardiola is instead focusing on getting City their first Champions League trophy – conceding their Premier League crown – which is plausible.
The Champions League is a trophy that’s eluded Guardiola since 2011, a title that he won twice with Barcelona but failed to replicate at Bayern Munich. It’s something that Guardiola wants to win again and it’s the big one that’s missing from City’s trophy cabinet.
But if they are to come anywhere near to getting their hands on the Champions League, Guardiola is going to need to strengthen during the winter window. The Spaniard has already suggested that fund will be limited but they need greater depth with the current injury crises.
Of course, they’re unlikely to blow another £50 million on a player, but City are going to need a bigger squad to deputise for those lengthy injuries, with Guardiola unlikely to put faith in youth products but perhaps the answer for City’s lack of creativity is on the bench in Phil Foden.
Graham Ruthven wrote an excellent piece on the 19-year-old and why he should demand more minutes from Pep Guardiola. The answer to success isn’t always spending a significant figure while solution could well be Foden.
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