Manchester City dropped crucial points yet again as they travelled to Tyneside to take on Newcastle United on Saturday and only managed to grind out a 2-2 draw. Liverpool took full advantage of the situation a few hours later, and they went 11 points clear of the defending champions after a win against Brighton and Hove Albion.
With every passing game, it seems like the Citizens will be more or less out of the title race by the time the new year approaches. It will undoubtedly be a surprising turn of events for a team who has picked up 198 points in the last two seasons. However, it cannot be ignored that Liverpool have looked ominous for some time now and the pressure seems to be on the back to back Premier League winners
We try to look at three reasons why Guardiola’s men have struggled so far this season.
The foremost and apparent reason has been injuries to the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane. After the departure of Kompany and City’s inability to replace him, Laporte was always going to be crucial for his side this season. If someone would have asked Guardiola about which player he would want to be available for every game, then Laporte would have been the most likely pick as he plays in a position where the club doesn’t have much depth. Almost in all the other areas, they could cope with injuries but not in central defence.
The injury problems of Benjamin Mendy has also been an issue, and the Frenchman has flattered to deceive with his performances this season. He has lost his pace, his crossing has looked below par, and his defending and passing is also questionable. It is probably time for the Citizens to accept that he has been a dud signing. Leroy Sane could often inject that much-needed pace and directness, and he too has been missed.
Lack of intensity
Guardiola often prepares his team to play smooth and silky football, but one of his hallmarks is the intensity which can trouble any team. The energy with which they press has seemingly gone down, and maybe the manager isn’t able to motivate the players as he did before. One cannot forget that these set of players played for two seasons with high intensity and maybe the manager isn’t able to get the best out of them anymore.
Lack of plan B
It is fair to say that teams have worked out on how to play against City. City’s significant threat often comes from the wide areas when the likes of Sterling, David Silva or De Bruyne occupy positions between the centre back and fullback and look to cut back from the byline. The tap in goals which came through a cutback pass has dried up this season as teams are covering that gap between the fullback and centre back. Guardiola’s men are hardly able to threaten from set-pieces or crosses, and they don’t seem to have a plan B when the going gets tough.
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