Less than 30 days ago, Manchester City was enjoying a 2-point lead in the Premier League table over Liverpool and impressed with a phenomenal difference of 15 goals. However, they are now 7 points behind Liverpool who are also level when it comes to goal difference, and Manchester City has also dropped to third position on the table behind Tottenham Hotspur by a point after Boxing Day.
Manchester City suffered a devastating couple of weeks where they managed to lose 3 out of 4 games where they previously remained undefeated. However, what could be the cause in their sudden dip?
The two defeats that Manchester City endured over the festive period, including a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leicester City and a 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace, have both been characterized by awful full-back performances. The Crystal Palace match managed to expose the defence limitations of Kyle Walker at right-back, who enjoyed a spectacular 2017/18 season but suffered a bit after his World Cup participation. He made a handful of mistakes during their victory against Everton but was partially to blame for the Crystal Palace game where they managed to score three goals.
Against Leicester City, Fabian Delph was to blame as he completely lost the equaliser from Marc Albrighton and Hamza Choudhury’s similar run thereafter which indicates that it might have been a tactic deployed by Leicester City to target the inability of Delph at the far post. Delph is actually considered a midfielder who was converted to play as a left-back. Although he is quite comfortable with the position, his body shape is frequently awkward once the ball is located on the opposite flank.
With Benjamin Mendy out of the team, it leaves Oleksandr Zinchenko or Danilo to face Mohamed Salah when Manchester City clashes against Liverpool in a week’s time. Salah usually plays up front during the 2018/19 season, but Klopp tends to go for a 4-3-3 formation where Salah plays wide on the right during important matches. Klopp will definitely utilize his dangerous attacker due to the fact that Manchester City is having problems at the back.
Lack of Pressing
Manchester City has never been able to adept when it comes to defending in deep positions. However, they managed to compensate with defensive work proactively in higher zones. The forward three managed to press aggressively, while the midfielders pressed up onto their opposing numbers, and the defence maintained a high line to ensure the game is played in the opposition’s half.
However, in recent weeks, prior to the sudden dip from Manchester City, it was quite noticeable that the team weren’t engaging their opposition in this manner. This has been highlighted by Mark Thompson in an article when Manchester City was still accumulating wins.
The article highlighted how the opposition was allowed to control the ball forward which made things increasingly more difficult for Fernandinho, the only defensive midfielder for the team.