One of the key problems that reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have had this season is their vulnerable defence. The Citizens are now down to just one fit senior central defender in Nicolas Otamendi.
First-choice centre-back duo John Stones and Aymeric Laporte will be out of action for the foreseeable future. The situation is not ideal heading into a trip to Everton this evening.
City will not be buying in January
With a lack of fit centre-backs, many expected the Citizens to go into the transfer market to strengthen their defensive options. However, City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed he will not sign defensive reinforcements.
The Catalan boss told Sky Sports “That is not my business but in January, we are not going to buy because we don’t have money to pay a huge amount in the summer so we cannot do it in winter.
“We are going to stick to the players we have, with [Taylor] Harwood-Bellis and Eric [Garcia] and with the new players in the academy. We have young, talented players and we can count on them. ”
Could be a key factor in the title
City are currently five points behind league leaders Liverpool, who they went toe-to-toe with in the title race last season. The Citizens eventually came out on top by just a point.
A good start to the season was always going to be vital in the title race. Liverpool have won all their games, despite not being as strong defensively as last season. However, City’s defensive vulnerabilities have cost Guardiola’s team in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham and then a shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich City. City are awesome in attack and can score at will on their day.
The champions cannot always just rely on their forwards to win games, as good as they are of course. Many Premier League teams will have the ability to punish those defensive weaknesses, just as Norwich and Spurs have already done it this season.
Both teams are prolific going forward. In fact, the two teams have two of the best attacks in world football. The difference in the title could how well be how City can cope defensively while their first-choice centre-backs are out of action.
In most Premier League games Manchester City boss possession. It just means the players who are in defensive positions must remain concentrated throughout top-flight games or the team is punished.
May not be an easy game for City on Merseyside
City’s trip to Goodison Park this evening seems like it will be a comfortable one for the reigning champions. The Toffees have been in terrible form of late in the top-flight.
However, they do still have quality players in their team that can punish City on their day. Prior to last weekend’s shock 2-0 home defeat against Sheffield United, they had recorded six straight home wins at Goodison Park.
Towards the end of last season, they also took the scalps of the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while holding Merseyside neighbours Liverpool to a goalless draw.
City needs to keep their concentration and not dropped their levels if they are to succeed on Merseyside. Quite simply if they are on their game, defensive problems or not then they will pick up a victory over Everton and they are big favourites to return to Manchester with maximum points.
Would it be a mistake for City not to strengthen their defensive options in January?