A disappointing result from Saturday's Manchester derby leaves the blues 14 points off league leaders Liverpool after 16 matches. Manchester City will be limping into the midweek dead rubber against Dinamo Zagreb, before beginning what will be a hectic holiday period in the league against Arsenal next weekend. A frustrating one to take, but City have no time to look back.
Here are five things we learning in this disappointing Manchester derby:
The disgusting state of football
Before going into anything else, something must be said about the incidents involving Fred during the second-half. Regardless of the match, there is no room for any attempted endangerment of an opponent’s health. Furthermore, any and all racist actions by fans are totally out of order and should never be seen in any situation. We can only hope that the club wastes no time in issuing lifetime bans to the ones guilty of these acts.
We must all work together in tackling the massive issue that is racism.
A new left-back is a must
In the summer, it was a fairy-tale story for a young Spaniard. Angelino made his return to the club after a move to PSV the previous summer. Through various injuries and dips in form to Benjamin Mendy and Oleksandr Zinchenko, he has been given the opportunity to show why he belongs in the first team.
Unfortunately, he has not been convincing this season, and the position is one that definitely needs to be strengthened by at least the end of next summer. On countless occasions today, Angelino was caught out by Daniel James. The away side caused City massive issues down their left and it had a tumble effect on the rest of the defensive line. Fernandinho was forced to look to cover Angelino in these situations, creating gaps throughout the defence.
When in doubt, cross it
When City go down in matches, there is a common theme that results from it. Opponents look to fall back into a deep defensive structure, often putting all but one of two of their players into their defensive third. Due to this, City find the largest amounts of space to gain possession in wide areas. The result: cross, after cross, after cross.
Today’s match was no different. Guardiola’s side attempted 47 crosses in this Manchester derby. One specific cross from Kevin De Bruyne found the head of Gabriel Jesus, who could not direct his effort towards goal. However, this was the only significant opportunity to come from this tactic, which seems to be a result of lack of space or ideas, and frustration.
Hot and cold Brazilian
In the past week, we have seen the good and the bad of Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian has had a very up and down career at Manchester City to date. A lot of this has to do with his game time. His arrival coincided with City legend Sergio Aguero finding a new level that he had not shown before. He accepted Guardiola’s challenge to put in more work, with and without possession.
Due to this, Jesus has consistently found himself in and out of the squad. This has made it very difficult for the young striker to get into form and stay in it. Against Burnley, Jesus was on fire. His goal in the first half gave him all the confidence he needed to have a massive impact on the match the rest of the way. In this match, however, he was lost in the sea of United’s defenders. Finding a way to rotate the two of these strikers when Aguero returns from injury will be crucial for Guardiola in accomplishing anything the rest of the way this season.
Where we go from here
With the lead between Manchester City and league leaders Liverpool now standing at 14 points, a potential treble of Premier League trophies is looking more and more unlikely as the days go on. So, where do City go from here?
The most important issue Guardiola must conquer is getting his team healthy. Stones was another name added to the injury list today, limping off early in the second half after seemingly injuring his hamstring. This has been a massive theme this season, and something must be changed in an attempt at mitigating this issue.
With Laporte supposedly returning at the end of January or early February, this will represent a massive boost in City’s hopes for silverware the rest of the way. City must continue to try and find the spark that has been missing for large portions of this season. If they can be successful in this, Guardiola can assess the situation in all competitions in the beginning of the new year, with hopefully the likes of Laporte and Sane returning to the side to give City a massive boost towards the end of the season. Depending on this situation, this might be the season to 'go all-in' on Europe’s biggest prize...
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