Sunday, November 19, 2017

Manchester City still not quite the finished article

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 22 Aug 2017

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For everybody connected with Manchester City, last night’s 1-1 draw with Everton must have been frustrating. Before and after the silly dismissal of full-back Kyle Walker, the Citizens dominated possession.

However, City struggled to overcome a stubborn visiting defence. Ironically, it was only when Everton boss Ronald Koeman made an attacking substitution that City equalised through Raheem Sterling.

City not looking secure at the back

Everton did not offer a massive attacking threat on Monday night. However, when they did through the lively Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wayne Rooney, City looked vulnerable in defence.

The Citizens started the game with three centre-backs in Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. At times Otamendi struggled to control the enthusiastic Calvert-Lewin and had to hand responsibility over to his fellow centre-backs during periods of the game.

Pep Guardiola as a boss likes to play a high defensive line, which means the centre-backs have to be on the top of their game to keep out the opposition. If an inexperienced youngster like Calvert-Lewin can cause City defensive problems at the back, they will truly be exposed against more experienced players in the Premier League and the Champions League.

The wing-backs are supposedly there to attack and defend. However, City started with winger Leroy Sane and Kyle Walker in the positions on Monday night. Sane is obviously better going forward and even as a full-back Walker’s biggest strength is going forward. Neither player is a great defender, so that does not help the central defensive trio.

Struggled to break down Everton

Apart from a slight defensive worry, the fact that the Citizens took so long to break down Everton may be a worry. Even with their full complement of players on the pitch, they struggled to break through Everton’s well-organised defence. It was not as if the Citizens peppered the Toffees goal with shots, either.

David Silva hit the post and Jordan Pickford made a few saves. However, with the amount of attacking quality in the City team, surely they should have been able to break down Everton’s defence.

The Toffees had not conceded in four competitive games this season. I highly doubt many would claim that they world-class, though. Everton boss Ronald Koeman came so close to getting his tactics spot on, only for Sterling to strike.

The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero were all on the pitch at different stages of the game. Yet, there was not the expected onslaught on the Everton goal.

The attacking tempo and movement was not as sharp as you would expect from Manchester City under Guardiola. City must get back to the devastating attacking force that everybody knows, or they will not be crowned champions next May.

City are the title favourites

Manchester City started the campaign as title favourites once again this season. It was unsurprising considering Guardiola is the Citizens boss and the men from Manchester once again spent big in the summer.

However, some of the problems of last season were on display in their opening two Premier League games. The Citizens are odds of 6/4 to win the title this season and they do look to have an impressive squad on paper. Unfortunately, for City, football is played on grass, not paper.

That squad of players may need to up their game somewhat in the near future. The destination of the Premier League title is definitely not a foregone conclusion this season.

Pep Guardiola still has a lot of work to do in Manchester to turn the Citizens into champions once again. They are not yet the finished article. The draw with Everton against Everton, especially after losing a man in the first half is not the worst result in the world.

However, everybody at City will be hoping for much better performances from their team and silverware at the end of the season.

Should Manchester City be title favourites?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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