Manchester City were seemingly cruising in the Premier League just a few weeks ago. They held a 100% record in the league after six weeks and sat proudly at the top of the table with eighteen points out of eighteen.
That was until they ran into Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Mauricio Pochettino’s men took a leaf out of Celtic’s book and pressed City high up the pitch just as the Scottish outfit did on the previous Wednesday. The Lilywhites came away with all three points in an impressive 2-0 win.
Manchester City haven’t won since their 3-1 away win over Swansea in September having playing out successive 1-1 home draws in the Premier League against Everton last week, and Southampton most recently.
Earlier on in the season, after six weeks of league action, City were scoring on average three goals per game, and winning most comfortably. However, Pep Guardolia’s side have kept just one clean sheet this season, and that came at home against Bournemouth in a 4-0 win.
This defensive record was previously covered up by an on-fire Manchester City attack, but now the goals have dried up for City, the defensive unit has come under scrutiny over the last couple of weeks. You can analyse as much as you like how the Manchester City defence work together, but mistakes have cost Guardiola’s side dear this season.
Looking back at the game against Tottenham, Aleksander Kolorov’s howler of an own goal put Spurs into the lead, and had the deficit been just the single goal, City may have come out of the game with a point, or maybe even more.
Moving away from league action, the Fernandinho slip was unfortunate, but Manchester City were still slightly in the game against an underperforming Barcelona side in midweek, and if Claudio Bravo hadn’t committed footballing suicide at 1-0, it might have been a different story at the Camp Nou.
Finally, most recently, John Stones, purchased from Everton over the summer for £47.5m couldn’t even lay the simplest of passes back to his goalkeeper, allowing Nathan Redmond to fire the Saints into the lead. These are all mistakes that shouldn’t be happening at the top level, and really are crippling Manchester City at the moment.
City also look uncomfortable when being pressed high, especially in the defence. The players either need to show that they are capable of dealing with the high press and playing it out of the back, or Pep Guardiola needs to have a serious tactical rethink.
To summarise, teams are going to come and set up shop at the Etihad playing for a point or a 1-0 win, and City may only be able to put one goal past these extremely well-drilled defences and to give City the best chance of winning, the defence needs to start keeping clean sheets on a regular basis. A good step towards doing that would be to completely irradiate all of the silly errors we are seeing in the City back line.