Well, who saw this coming?
Leicester City came up with a 4-2 win in a hopeless Manchester City performance. The game was all but sealed in the 78th minute when Jamie Vardy finished off his hat-trick from an astray back pass by John Stones.
I predicted in my Players to Watch article that if Leicester were to win the game, then Vardy would have to halt his 16-game streak without a goal; I couldn’t have been any more accurate.
City lost confidence after going 2-0 down in the 5th minute (yes, 5th minute), and they never managed to put a single shot on target until Aleksandar Kolarov’s superb free kick goal in the 82nd minute. They could not manipulate Leicester’s seemingly weak midfield, but Daniel Amartey and Andy King managed to push City out on the wing to attack, which they struggled at (also a prediction in my Players to Watch piece).
There were few bright spots on the day, including attacking prowess from Kolarov and Kevin de Bruyne. However, Pep Guardiola has a lot to tell his side going to a match against Watford midweek.
Here’s an analysis of the game from a City fan’s own perspective.
Bacary Sagna should never play center-back
Sagna struggled to prevent Vardy and Islam Slimani from penetrating the box at center-back, and the French full-back looks much more comfortable in an outside role. He could not push up as much as he is used to, and it was a dismal performance for him.
What are John Stones and Claudio Bravo doing?
I can only imagine Joe Hart with a cheeky grin on his face as he overlooks his replacement’s job from Torino.
Guardiola’s pass-back strategy utterly failed in this game, as the defense struggled to move the ball while under pressure from the Leicester strike force. John Stones gave up a sitter to Jamie Vardy after he shanked a pass to Bravo, and Vardy put the ball into the goal from an awkward angle, which barely crossed the line.
Until they can fully gain chemistry, Guardiola should stop playing the pass-back style, as it pushes City back into their own territory, and they often make mistakes which lead to cheap chances for the opposition. This happened last week as well, as Chelsea pressured Bravo into making bad decisions.
If Pep eases up on back passes, Stones feels more confident on the ball and has the ability to push up with the City attack. After all, City have only managed two clean sheets this season, which is a clear testament to the struggling back line. John Stones and Claudio Bravo must stop making amateur mistakes to give the Sky Blues a chance of winning.
Pep finally played Kolarov at left-back
After City’s loss against Chelsea last week, I said that Guardiola should play Aleksandar Kolarov at left-back instead of center-back. I doubt the manager read the article, but he thankfully listened.
Kolarov scored a wonderful free kick goal and assisted Nolito’s 90th minute goal, and he looked much more comfortable on the wing. He often pushed up with the attack and contributed to a few chances, a feat he was incapable of at center-back (even though he’s incapable of defending at either position).
Fernandinho is the glue
Fernandinho has always gone under the radar as one of City’s best players, but they sure did miss him against Leicester. The Brazilian has always kept the backline safe from as much pressure as he can handle, and Fernando did not perform nearly as high as Dinho's standard.
He doesn’t score, but Fernandinho holds his spot in the squad for a reason. He will be seriously missed during his three-game suspension. Pep shouldn’t play a 4-1-4-1 until he returns, as he is the only midfielder who can handle the lone spot.
Why didn’t Nolito start?
Nolito has been a successful transfer thus far for City, and he scored a goal during his short period on the pitch. Unless I am missing something, he should have easily started over Jesus Navas.
The former Celta Vigo winger can tear apart defenses, create chances and score them as well. Hopefully, Guardiola starts him (or even Raheem Sterling) over Navas next time around.
Feed the ball to Kelechi Iheanacho
Worst substitution of the day? Yaya Touré for Kelechi Iheanacho. Why? Because Yaya isn’t a striker!
I have always had high praise for the Nigerian, and I don’t understand why the offense didn’t revolve around the center. Everyone knows City could dominate Leicester’s midfield by attacking through the middle and getting behind the line, but City made no effort to do this.
Iheanacho has fantastic finishing, especially with his extremely high conversion rates, so it would be expected that they would give him the ball to score rather than attack outside against Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson. Next game, Pep needs to leave Iheanacho on the pitch and feed him the ball in dangerous areas, or else the young striker will turn invisible again.
Shoot the ball on target!
Something City struggled with last week as well, and this weekend the Sky Blues didn’t put a single shot on target until the 82nd minute. Kevin De Bruyne and the rest of the squad did not have enough confidence in front of goal, and when they did, their shots would often miss the goal.
This is why City have struggled: they fail to do the simple things. City dominate possession, control the game on their pace, and they can attack at free will. But they often make too many mistakes out of the back, they cannot defend counter attacks, and they fail to hit the target with their shots.
City have to rebound in a midweek match against Watford at the Etihad. Pep must motivate the side and work on the simple things in preparation for their upcoming matches up to New Year's Day.