What is going on with Manchester City?
The Treble winners have not won in four matches and are six points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League.
After their 1-0 loss at Aston Villa on Wednesday night manager Pep Guardiola admitted his side “are struggling”.
And former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes the champions are “in a mini crisis”, telling BBC Match of the Day “they look vulnerable”.
Leon Bailey’s 74th-minute deflected shot gave Villa a deserved victory – one which meant City dropped to fourth in the table, behind Villa, Liverpool and Arsenal.
With so many challengers emerging, is City’s crown starting to slip after three successive titles?
Best of the stats – Worst defensive start since 2009
The stats do not look good for a Manchester City side hunting a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League title.
- City have gone four Premier League games without a win for the first time since April 2017, having drawn with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham before their loss Aston Villa.
- City conceded 17 goals across their first 15 Premier League matches for the first time since 2009-10 when they finished fifth.
- They attempted just two shots against Villa – the fewest ever by a Guardiola team in a game within Europe’s big five leagues (a run of 535 games)
- The 22 shots from Aston Villa was the joint-most faced by a Guardiola side in the same period
- Man City have lost all four matches Rodri has not played this season
It is worth mentioning though that in their 2018-19 title-winning season under Guardiola, City were 10 points off top spot after 19 games and still went on to win the Premier League with 98 points.
Do not count them out just yet.
Guardiola looks for ‘solutions’ to problems
After the disappointing defeat, Guardiola admitted “the better team won” and he “has to find a solution” to reverse City’s woes.
“We struggled, especially in the first half and the second was completely different,” the City manager told Amazon Prime. “In the final third, the quality of the pass and the movement, we didn’t find it all game.
“We know what’s our level and as a manager we have to find a way to win games. We’re struggling a bit. I’m here to help them.”
City’s four defeats this season have come when influential midfielder Rodri has been out of the starting XI. The Spaniard missed the match with Villa through a one-match suspension.
With Rodri in the team, City are unbeaten in their past 43 matches and Guardiola added he has “to find a way to win without him”.
‘One of the worst games we’ve seen from City’ – What they said
Former Manchester City defender Gael Clichy on Amazon Prime: “City played one of the worst games we’ve seen from them. There was no fluidity, they were lucky not to concede two, maybe three or four.”
Ex-Chelsea winger Pat Nevin on BBC Radio 5 Live: “City looked like a team that were well-beaten, actually out-run tonight. Just recently teams have taken the ‘let’s have a go at them’ approach – Chelsea, Spurs, now Villa, and it is working.
Former Wales captain Ashley Williams on BBC Match of the Day: “It almost felt like Unai Emery got the better of Guardiola. In all aspects of the game, Villa got the better of Manchester City. Something isn’t right. In a normal season, City would dispatch these sides.”
Former Aston Villa midfielder Andy Townsend on Amazon Prime: “I don’t think Guardiola has seen his side outmanoeuvred and outworked as much as he has tonight. Villa have dominated Manchester City.”
Ex-Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill on Amazon Prime: “Manchester City were really disappointing, they never really got going. There was too much energy for Manchester City to handle. It did not feel like a Guardiola side.”
What you said – ‘City have clear weaknesses’
Mohammed Zahfeer: “Have never seen a team dominate a Pep team like this.. no Rodri = no City. Lost all four without him, more important than Haaland.”
Tunde Paul: “Pep must be thinking “what’s going on”. He’ll be looking to unleash Kevin de Bruyne once back to full fitness. I think [to say] they are missing him is an understatement.”
Scott Allen-Johns: “Man City seem different this season, not as dominant. They have clear weaknesses. It’s early days still and you cannot write them off but this is going to be a tighter battle. My gut is leaning towards Liverpool for the title though.”
Charlie: “City will still win the league by six points [minimum].”