16 games into the 2019/20 Premier League season, defending champions Manchester City have already lost as many games as they did in the entirety of the 2018/19 season. Liverpool are running away at the top of the table and City find themselves languishing down in third, 14 points adrift of the leaders and potentially six behind Leicester by the end of the day.
City started the year well, aiming to become just the second team in the history of the Premier League to win the title three years in a row, however since that hot start things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Pep Guardiola’s side. A mixture of poor summer business and a slew of injuries have left Manchester City very vulnerable at the back, which has caused a number of issues throughout the early stages of the season.
After City baulked at Leicester’s asking price for Harry Maguire and decided not to sign a replacement for the departing Vincent Kompany, there were some concerns that one or two injuries could cause issues in defence. It took four games for that worry to become a reality, with Aymeric Laporte suffering a serious knee injury from which he is yet to return. Combine that with Benjamin Mendy’s ongoing injury issues and Oleksandr Zinchenko only just returning to the squad following knee surgery in September, it has left Guardiola with few options at the back.
So far this season we have seen him deploy a centre back pairing of Fernandinho and John Stones on a number of occasions, not only meaning that the Brazilian is being played out of position, but also robbing City the chance to deploy one of their most influential holding midfielders.
Manchester City couldn’t maintain that level
To no real surprise the pair have been shaky at best, as Manchester City have gone on to leak a further 16 goals in the 12 games following Laporte’s injury. That puts their tally at 19 goals conceded for the season, just four goals shy of their tally for the entire 2018/19 year. Taking a deeper look at the stats reveals just how much worse City have been defensively this season, going from conceding 0.61 goals per game last year to almost 1.2 goals per game this season.
The Sky Blue’s have also already given away more errors that have led to goals this season than they did in the entirety of the last campaign. Meanwhile City’s offence has been even more lethal than we saw last season, as they’re averaging 2.75 goals per game. They’re just being let down by a flappy defence.
The big worry following their loss in the Manchester Derby, in which Manchester United dominated and truly looked the better side, is seeing John Stones going out of the game with an injury, which means City are now missing their two starting centre backs.
It is yet unknown when either of the players will be fit to return, however Guardiola’s recent statement that Manchester City wouldn’t be looking to bring in a centre-half during the January window is beginning to look like it may have to change, especially if Stones is going to be out for any significant length of time.
If Manchester City can reform their defence for the second half of the season, they could well march up the table and reclaim second place, however for the time being their form should come as no surprise to anybody.
All stats taken from www.premierleague.com.