Stoke May Have Shown a Way to Beat City
Manchester City suffered a second home defeat since last season after 1-0 defeat against Stoke City, but this defeat could have serious implications if Manuel Pellegrini does not wake up quickly. The Chilean has received a lot of praise for transforming City into a delightful team to watch. This was certainly not the case with the City teams of the past, especially those under Roberto Mancini.
Last season, City almost broke Chelsea’s record of 103 goals in a single league campaign. A key aspect towards the brilliant attacking display was the team’s ability to play football at a breath-taking pace. The passing skills of David Silva and Samir Nasri are second to none in this league, but they are made into chances only through the intelligent running of Sergio Aguero, who is still backed by Betfair at 6/1 to finish as the Premier League top scorer, and Edin Dzeko in the channels.
City are one of the best teams at breaking the defensive line with a killer pass. Their hunger for more goals only increases against defences that are not organised. This was a case in point against Liverpool. City won the match 3-1 but it could have easily been more than five goals for the home team. They ripped apart a Liverpool defence that was disorganised throughout the 90 minutes and left huge spaces at the back for the likes of Aguero and Dzeko to run into.
Things, though, were more difficult against Stoke. A number of players like Gareth Barry, who were brought by former City manager Mark Hughes, may not be at City anymore, but the opposition had come in with a clear plan to frustrate their opponents.
Stoke effectively played with six at the back because their wingers, including Victor Moses who is on loan from Chelsea, dropped into act as reinforcements for their defenders. City have often found a way to get past teams that put a lot of men behind the ball, but against Stoke, they were simply offered no space in the final third of the pitch. Since the likes of Moses were offering protection, the Stoke City full backs were not required to get the positions to block crosses. This, in turn, meant that the space for Aguero to run into never showed up throughout the 90 minutes.
Not many will be capable of replicating Diouf’s solo goal, but City need to find their sharpness back or face the risk of many teams repeating this tactic. They also need to do it quick since City’s next three matches will be against Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea.
Betfair places City at odds of 5/2 to win the league title behind Chelsea’s 4/5 odds.