Manchester City fell short of earning the three points against Middlesbrough on Sunday, as the drew 2-2 at the Riverside.
Although both sides fought to grab the winning goal, the match concluded with the teams sharing the points, and City now find themselves tied with Liverpool in third place and just a point ahead of Manchester United. The race for a Champions League place could’ve been even tighter had Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur, but Spurs beat the Gunners 2-0 in the final North London Derby at White Hart Lane.
Here’s a look at the match from a City fan’s perspective.
Although City have struggled in defense all year, Pep Guardiola felt comfortable playing three at the back against a usually mediocre Boro attack. However, Steve Agnew’s side showed up to play in their battle against relegation, and their attack proved to be quite strong, with six shots on target to City's four.
Each City center back had a decent performance on the day, even though they did allow two goals and struggled to prevent pressure. Aleksandar Kolarov won six of his seven duels, Vincent Kompany made 12 (!!!!!!!!) clearances, and Nicolás Otamendi created a big chance for Gabriel Jesus in the first half.
Outside of Kevin De Bruyne, the City midfield was quite underwhelming on the day. Personally, I felt as if Gaël Clichy and Jesús Navas were playing too high as wing-backs, and their defensive efforts would’ve been much more useful in certain situations like the Boro counter attack that led to their first goal.
The wing-backs and Aleix García were largely ineffective, as they never really produced much for City going forward. The substitutes played quite well, with Leroy Sané winning a penalty and Raheem Sterling bringing danger to the right wing.
Coming down to the final stretch of the Premier League season, Pep Guardiola needs to be starting Sané and Sterling in every match, even if they’re on short rest. They’ve both been quite effective as substitutes in recent weeks, and City could’ve definitely used their talents going forward in the first half.
Kevin De Bruyne’s performance on Sunday was similar to the one in the Manchester Derby. The Belgian created plenty of danger and led City in the attack, completing seven of eight dribbles and making four key passes, but City couldn’t make anything out of his efforts. Fernandinho did a solid job in midfield, but the formation choice does not suit his box-to-box style of play (especially with three at the back).
Both goals came from the strikers on the afternoon, and their contributions to the team have been fantastic all year. Although Gabriel Jesus did miss the target with two big chances in the first half, his goal was just another demonstration of his world-class potential as a striker.
Thank goodness Jesus made a speedy recovery from his foot injury as it appears Sergio Agüero could miss the rest of the season with a leg injury. Pep Guardiola didn’t seem too optimistic while addressing Agüero during his post-match interview, but hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
Coming down to the home stretch of the season, City will need at least three wins from the final four matchs, but the race for the Top-4 is practically impossible to predict with the wavering form of all teams involved in it. If City fail to qualify for the Champions League, the draw against Boro could be a big reason for it.