After remaining unbeaten under new manager Pep Guardiola and being the early season pace setters, there was talk that Pep could stroll to a first league title in his first season. However, after being abused at times during their loss to Spurs yesterday afternoon, Pep clearly still has work to do if he wants to win it all.
Despite their emphatic start to the season, City had only kept one clean sheet in the league going into their encounter with Spurs on Sunday, their 4-0 whitewash of Bournemouth at home, and even though they spent £50 million on John Stones, it’s clear there are still frailties at the back. The warning signs were there during their 3-3 draw with Celtic in the week and if not for good attacking play, the outcome would have been a City defeat. They didn’t have such luck against Spurs yesterday as they fell to their first defeat in the Guardiola era. They weren’t outplayed by Spurs as they themselves had their fair share of chances, but at times they couldn’t cope with the high press. Forced into mistakes on plenty of occasions, the City defence was tested to the full and they just couldn’t cope. The most high-profile of those mistakes was of course the Kolarov own goal. Praised this season for his ability to bring the ball out from the back, Kolarov’s at times average defending has gone under the radar. Well it certainly came to the surface against Spurs. At fault on more occasions than I can count and frankly scoring an embarrassing own goal, the Serbian international had a nightmare at the back. He may well offer something in the attacking sense,but when it comes to doing the job he is there to do, defend, he simply isn’t good enough.
One player City were truly missing is of course Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian has been one of the stand out performers in the league this season and you could see from the off that he was missed. His energy and quality in the final third was what City needed at times to gain a foot-hold in the game and perhaps get on the scorsheet. Whilst Silva is a phenomenal player, he lacks the pace and ability to drive with the ball that De Bruyne has and Fernandinho, Silva’s partner for the day, may have the energy, but he certainly isn’t the architect like De Bruyne. It is only one game and City have countless players who can fill in, but if they are to keep up their good start then they need him to be fit and firing sooner rather than later.
City aren’t the first and will unlikely be the last team to lose to Spurs this season, but after such a good start Pep surely will be disappointed. It’s far from a crisis, not even close. Still sitting at the top of the league and with the international break comes a time to regroup. However, the defeat does give Pep some food for thought. It has shown him that this league isn’t as easy as perhaps he might have thought. It’s not like Spain or Germany, you can’t roll teams over every week. It is the most competitive in the world and Guardiola must grasp that, or Spurs wont’ t be the last defeat he suffers this season.