With no win in five games, there is an atmosphere of uncertainty around Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, do the fans have reason to be concerned or is this just a brief run of poor form?
After a tough away defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, Man City have been held 1-1 at home by both Everton and Southampton in the league and with a 3-3 draw at Celtic and a thumping at the Nou Camp thrown in there, it’s fair to say the Blues haven’t had the best October. They started the season immaculately under new manager Guardiola, winning their first ten with considerable ease. Flowing football and unlocking defences was rapidly becoming a formality, until the Champions League clash with Celtic in Glasgow ground them to a halt. Since then, there’s been a lack of real cutting edge up top with Aguero and De Bruyne drifting in and out of match fitness. This has cost them dearly, they’ve only scored twice in the last four games.
We saw from the beginning of the season that City have some defensive frailties, yet with the goals coming thick and fast this problem was swept under the rug. Now that the goals have dried up a bit, the mistakes are becoming exposed and they’re costing points (see Stones versus Southampton).
Are teams starting to figure Pep out?
As was the case in his years at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, lesser teams discovered that you cannot out-pass a Pep Guardiola team. The key to success against the Spaniard is to contain, frustrate and counter. As difficult and tiring as it can be over ninety minutes, if you manage to remain compact as a defensive unit, City’s creative players will become frustrated and attempt hopeful passes or shots from range. As was the case with Everton, all it takes is a bit of ingenuity on the counter attack and a composed finish to pull off a smash and grab, or, like Everton, hold on for a point.
In all fairness to Man City, they have their fair share of bad luck. Uncharacteristic errors from otherwise assured players and a couple of penalty misses have cost them Premier League points, and it is incredibly easy to fall foul to Barcelona’s clinical front three. However, they need to turn this poor run around, especially in the league, or they may be in danger of losing their grip on the top spot with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs looking like strong title contenders even at this early stage.
City fans shouldn’t be too worried; the quality and depth of their squad is too strong and with a League Cup clash with their even more out-of-sorts rivals Manchester United on Wednesday there would be no better way to bounce back than with a win at Old Trafford.