Another unfortunate result leaves Manchester City completely even with Liverpool with four games left in the Premier League campaign. Middlesbrough battled the Blues to the final whistle, frustrating them in front of goal and opening the game into City’s half with incredible passion.
Here are three things we learned:
1. Boro’s Passion
Defensive focus has helped many teams frustrate City this season. Boro took the pitch Sunday intent on rallying the spirit of their club and supporters. With relegation on the horizon, they were never going to completely sit back against City.
Fast-paced, straight forward drives from Boro’s forwards made Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany look much more insecure than they did against Manchester United.
2. A Great Start
Energetic chances early in the match made City look dangerous. It appeared as if they would be able to own the game early and deflate Boro.
Once the home side staged a few attacks, City began to lag under the pressure. The Blues became awkwardly open at the back with lame clearances and tackles, forcing them to fight from behind twice.
Even as City came out after the half with Leroy Sané and a bit more bite, Boro were able to assert themselves and unsettle the Blues.
3. The Drive
Creating the momentum to go up, to get the initial goal, to build and hold a lead — to score somehow —, has to be stronger from City. The quality of the team has been proven time after time all season, but an air of impotency has made them suffer multiple times.
There are many players on the pitch at any moment whose inspiration could turn a game around. Finding the dynamic to completely gel and do the damage they are capable of will keep City fans on the edge of their seats for the foreseeable future.
The same old problems in the boxes continue to haunt the Blues. Scoring goals and keeping clean sheets still need to be addressed. Whether one is more important than the other is debatable.
With three of the last four matches at home, City can create an environment of anticipation that will carry through the summer and into next season’s competitions.