3 major reasons for Manchester City’s downfall this season
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are gaining some significant attention in the media following their latest defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. The English champions are now a whopping 22 points behind Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool with their topsy-turvy league form posing serious questions to their Champions League pursuit.
Guardiola is often found praising his team even after defeat with fans now getting extremely frustrated not only with the team’s performances but also with their manager’s reluctance to address some major issues at the club. The Catalan will now have to go all out for the trio of cup competitions before the tiny cracks at Manchester City widen into fissures. In this section, we discuss three major reasons for their downfall this season in the league.
3. Injuries to key players
While rival fans will suggest that Manchester City are well-equipped to cope up with any injury thrown at them, only some will actually sympathise with the Premier League champions. Both Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, two quintessential building blocks of the Pep Guardiola machine, have been missing throughout the season. The Frenchman’s return at Bramall Lane was refreshing and relieving for many but he has again been sidelined with fatigue and slow recovery.
Taking Laporte and Sane out of this City team can be equated to taking Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane out of Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp would surely not be enjoying a 22-point lead without this talismanic duo. Laporte was named in the PFA Team of the Year in what was his first full season at the club, showcasing his immense ability and leadership qualities. Many would forget that his goal at Brighton before half-time on the final day of last season was pivotal to send his City towards the championship. And his left-footed counterpart Sane might be the only world-class 22-year-old in all of Europe.
Raheem Sterling has had to fill in at the left-flank in the German’s absence, and though he has featured there a lot of times for City, his most effective performances come at the right-wing. Riyad Mahrez has been one of Guardiola’s stand-out performers this season, but Sane’s directness and effectiveness gives the team a different dimension going forward. The 2017/18 PFA Young Player of the Year has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich since forever, but recent reports have suggested that he might as well sign a new contract at the Etihad.
Apart from these two absolutely vital players, other equally important players like David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Rodri, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ederson have had their share of injury concerns this season. The left-footed combination of Laporte, Silva and Sane was key in unlocking many defenses last season but all three have struggled with match fitness this term. City, therefore, have suffered several injuries at different points of time which have hampered momentum and forced Guardiola to try unusual formations and tactics.
On the other hand, their title rivals Liverpool have also been unlucky with injuries but their core group of players like Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson have all stayed sharp and fit throughout most of the season. If City are to challenge for the title next season, they will need their best players to be at the peak of their powers for the majority of the campaign.