Take a look at the Premier League table and you’d ask yourself whether Manchester City are having such a bad season as everyone thinks they’re having.
Title Aspirations and Current Standings
At the end of gameweek 20, the Cityzens are five points behind league leaders, Liverpool with a game in hand. If Man City win that game in hand, they automatically climb into second, and are only two points off the top.
That being said, Guardiola’s side have not been dominant in quite a number of games played before 2023 came to an end. Three teams; Arsenal, Wolves, and Aston Villa have beaten Manchester City this season already. Against Wolves, the team had 23 shots on goal with just 8 on target and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Interestingly, Wolves had just one shot on target, which was the winning goal, with Ruben Dias turning the ball into his own net earlier in the game.
Challenges and Tactical Analysis
A lot of dissection has gone on but the problem has been more of coaching than a personnel issue. Over the years, Pep Guardiola has been an over-thinker, experimenter and tactical genius. This season, he has overdone this and that may well be costing his side domestically. It’s fair to say that in Europe and on the world stage, City have been brilliant.
In the game against Chelsea, Pep elected to play Bernardo as a “holding midfielder” alongside Rodri. Bernardo was, however, expected to push up with the press whenever Chelsea started an attacking sequence. The result was Rodri being isolated on multiple occasions, as the single pivot in front of the defence. That single action was the downfall of City in the game and by the time Mateo Kovacic came on, the dice had been cast.
Pep’s tinkering has barely paid off in many games in the league this season, and he may need to find a solution, especially with the injury woes his side has faced.
While Man City haven’t been brilliant, their rivals have also been equally poor. Arsenal in particular, who were the early pacesetters, have somehow dropped to 4th after a poor showing in December. Liverpool, however, has put together a run that has made them contenders as we hit the bend for the second half of the season.
The excitement is only building ahead of the second half of the season, and the question many will ask is “Are Manchester City going to dominate or are we going to crown new champions come May?”
It remains to be seen!