Manchester City drew 3-3 with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday. The draw meant that Pep Guardiola’s side is now third in the league table with 30 points from 14 matches.
They are now a point adrift of Liverpool and three points behind table-toppers Arsenal. The Cityzens have also drawn their last three matches, which is not acceptable by their lofty standards. In addition to that, they have let in eight goals in those three matches. Admittedly, all those three games were against big teams, but Manchester City’s defensive record will keep their coach worried.
Manchester City missing a link-up man in their midfield
In the match against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City pressed high with numbers upfront. It allowed them to effect turnovers, and one of those turnovers also led to Jack Grealish’s goal. However, throwing numbers upfront also made them vulnerable against counter-attacks, as Tottenham rattled them repeatedly with fast counters.
City started with a 3-2-4-1 formation, with Rodri frequently moving into the opposition half to play forward passes to the forwards. City are always at their best when they have most of their players closely knit, which enables them to play their game with short passes. However, it meant that when Manchester City had to track back, Rodri was often not in a position to thwart the opposition attacks.
In this regard, City sorely missed someone like Kevin de Bruyne or Ilkay Gundogan much, either of whom has the ability to carry the ball through the middle to link their defence with their attack. This was the reason why one of their defensive midfielders had to position himself inside the opposition half.
This was also the reason why Jérémy Doku continued to be City’s primary creative outlet against Tottenham, too. However, learning from City’s match against Liverpool last week, Tottenham defended with two or, at times, even three men against Doku. This rendered City’s attack slightly ineffective at times.
Bernardo Silva might be the man to do it
Given the current scenario, the versatile Bernardo Silva might be the man to do the link-up for the Cityzens. However, he is more adept at dribbling and passing in shorter areas. As Julián Álvarez typically plays just behind the striker, Bernardo will have to take the responsibility of carrying the balls from inside his own half.
City has a tricky visit to Aston Villa next weekend, but will have easier opponents like Luton Town, Crystal Palace and Brentford thereafter. However, they will have to pick up nine points from those three matches to keep the pressure on Arsenal.
Still, Guardiola might also think of doing some business in the January Transfer Window in terms of acquiring an attacking midfielder. They have a lot of defensive options like Rico Lewis, Matteo Kovačić and Mattheus Nunes, but might be somewhat short in terms of creativity.
Manchester City has repeatedly looked vulnerable against speedy forwards and Guardiola will have to do something in this regard if he is to extend his monopoly in English football. It remains to be seen whether he is able to do that.