Prior to the start of this Premier League campaign, Manchester City nearly seemed untouchable. At least on paper. They won the coveted title successively under Guardiola and although they failed to translate that into the Champions League, their dominance across England has been admirable.
Last season, Liverpool put up a tough fight for the Premier League title but they fell short towards the end. This time, however, Jurgen Klopp’s men have bounced back with a vengeance.
As of now, Liverpool are at the top and have established a considerable gap between themselves and Manchester City, who are currently placed 4th. Of course, there’s still lots of games to go and the pendulum can still swing eithier way.
But considering how much City have struggled of late, Guardiola will need to sort out some issues soon enough or see his City side lose the dominance they have had over English football in the past couple seaons.
With that in mind, here are three reasons as to why the City have failed to reach the same heights as they did last season.
Defence in shambles
Guardiola’s failure to replace veteran centre-back Vincent Kompany, who departed in the summer, has proven to be quite a costly move. Devoid of a reliable leader at the back, City’s defence has been picked apart time and again.
Nicolas Otamendi played a key role last season but in the ongoing term, his performances have lacked consistency. And the manager’s problems have been compounded with an injury to Aymeric Laporte. Thus, once the January window rolls about, the Manchester outfit must invest in signing a quality centre-back.
Fernandinho has even had to be deployed in the City defence but as expected, he can’t do a job like the actual defenders would have done. As per Skysports, City have already let in 13 goals this season. More than Liverpool, Leicester City, Sheffield United and Manchester United. That does say something.
Guardiola can easily be called one of the best tacticians if not the best in world football. Always sticking to a pattern and an entertaining brand of football, Guardiola’s methods this season have not looked as smooth as always.
The most recent example would be their defeat to Liverpool. City’s defence was set up in such a way that it provided ample space for Roberto Firmino to capitalize. What resulted was a heavy defeat by their own standards.
The Brazilian is famous for operating quite unusually when compared to other strikers in the league. And with able goalscorers like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah beside him, the trio took advantage of City’s gaps and lack of cohesion, thus winning the game.
Moving forward, Guardiola would have to stick to a winning formula and put out his best personnel at all times. The rotation policy obviously has to come in play as City are in other competitions as well. But the general message in Guardiola’s head must surely be “play out my best eleven till we can get closer and closer to Liverpool”. Rightly so.
Injuries to key players
Ederson’s absence prompted Guardiola to utilize Claudio Bravo in the nets against Liverpool and as a result, they paid for it dearly. The Brazilian has returned to training, however, meaning he could feature soon for the Cityzens.
David Silva has been out of action for a long time but he featured on the bench against the Reds. And Benjamin Mendy continues to be out on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Oleksandr Zinchenko is also going through injury troubles, meaning a good core of Guardiola’s team is missing.
As said above, Guardiola would have to play his best side to get some consistent squad dynamics but how can that happen If they are barely available in the first place. Such is the state of the City squad that one can’t easily predict their starting lineup anymore, with injuries and re-shuffles the reason for this.
City would be hoping their key players get back to action soon (especially the defence) enough and also remain fit long enough to mount a steady challenge with Liverpool at the top.