The scale of Manchester City woes were laid bare as Norwich amazed them at Carrow Road – and with few other options at his disposal, it may cost Pep Guardiola precious at the title race.
John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi had difficulty games at the 3-2 defeat, however Guardiola has made his own bed by deciding replacing Vincent Kompany at the summertime, as well as Aymeric Laporte hurt long-term, today appears stuck with a partnership he’s never favoured until the January transfer window at least.
He has done his best to steer clear of matching the two. For they were began by Guardiola together three times at the whole of last season. They do not seem a mix, particularly against a Liverpool side in this kind of mood. “Perhaps we’ll consider [another guardian ] in December, possibly,” Guardiola said on Friday, before the Norwich match. That is fast getting a definitely.
Even if Liverpool drop five points between today and January 1, that is far from guaranteed (they’ve only dropped half of their past 19 matches ), City would need to be perfect to draw degree. They looked a thousand miles from that against Norwich.
Guardiola’s guys would have half a season to get themselves back on course, naturally, but when they came back from the brink last season it wasn’t from a side to a streak.
Against Norwich, the cumbersome duo of Otamendi and also Stones were uncertain out and uncomfortable in possession of it, the antithesis of this Guardiola defence we have become accustomed to, and that nervousness appeared to disperse across the remainder of their line also.
Norwich must be perfect, was that the message ahead of the game. No need Stones tried and failed to perform Teemu Pukki permitting him a clear run on goal before squaring for Cantwell to tap .
Sometime after, due to their third party, Stones’ unhelpful pass his own box located Otamendi, seemingly unaware Emi Buendia would closes down him, robbed of their ball and a very simple finish setup to poke house.
“That second goal shows how much they are likely to miss Aymeric Laporte,” Jamie Redknapp advised Saturday Night Football. “He is very important for this group as well as the chemistry between both centre-backs, John Stones along with Nicolas Otamendi, is not there.
“They were all around the location for the next goal and summed up their entire performance. Together with Laporte, they seem to have that stability. It is clear to everybody that Stones and Otamendi don’t look like a true partnership.”
Guardiola remained normally defiant. “I am not worried,” he told Sky Sports after full time. He is not going to throw defender below the bus, particularly when he needs them more than he would enjoy, but how City see out the next 3 months will be a major concern due to their manager whose actions have spoken louder than his words.
We’ve noticed these lapses in focus from Otamendi and Stones earlier, especially at the debut season of Guardiola in English football. Another would swing shambolic and minute with regularity with them collectively. They did boost under his wing with a different summertime , but Pep nevertheless felt Laporte’s 57m addition contains reliable them to start together in eight league matches in the 20 weeks, and was necessary in January 2018.
But now it is back to square one. Laporte hurt, Kompany gone, Harry Maguire, who Guardiola confessed he had courted in the summer, playing with his football down the road.
“We could not manage him,” was the official line in the Etihad when Maguire joined Manchester United for #80m, soon afterwards City had signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid for #62m. Had they been concerned about replacement Kompany, they may have held their horses.
City prioritised a Fernandinho replacement over a centre-back, a position where they were short on numbers, is not certain. But he’s made his feelings about the pairing so clear the club is pleased to rely on Fernandinho in again, or that his palms actually were tied, in spite of the fact. Even Kyle Walker, that had a combined time in centre-back at a three during last year’s World Cup, has been mooted.
“We didn’t anticipate the harm and in more than three decades collectively John and Nicolas have played and thanks to them we have won,” additional Guardiola within his post-match interview.
“Laporte is now injured and Kompany is currently in Anderlecht, and so we cannot just analyse off it one game. We will need to improve on that and hopefully we can do better”
He is right of course. It’s just one game. But if it comes down to whether City were willing to risk spending big money or risk losing their Premier League crown when injury struck, they then may be needing they made a different option.
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