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It’s possible that Man City’s double return boost will help them perform at their peak

It’s possible that Man City’s double return boost will help them perform at their peak

Despite a strong start to the year, Manchester City hasn’t yet played at their peak.

 

John Stones and Rodri are once again available for Manchester City.

 

The first half of the Premier League season isn’t where you want to showcase your best work, as Pep Guardiola frequently says.

 

It’s all about getting things done, racking up those points while using as little energy as possible, and making sure that by the time the new year rolls around, you’re still in a good spot in the championship race.

Even Guardiola admitted this past week that his top priority right now is getting his team into the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

 

Therefore, it is entirely intentional for Manchester City to perform below their best in the first games of the season.

It is unsustainable to play at your brilliant best right away and go too hard, too fast.

Burnout would result at the worst possible time as a result of the physical and emotional toll it would take.

When the season is getting down to the wire, you can’t step up your performance if you’re already performing at your peak.

 

Although it has taken on a negative hue following the last two losses to Arsenal and Wolves, which marked the first back-to-back league defeats since 2018, City has still had an outstanding start to the year. They won their first six games in a row, whereas it took them until February of last year to do so.

 

As a result, nothing is wrong.

Although they aren’t yet conclusive, City would have obviously wanted to win both of those matches. Even with all of that in mind, there is some concern about how the recent displays have come across, which have seemed more haphazard and unflattering than one might anticipate even at this early stage of the campaign.

 

Since City lacks a creative spark and Erling Haaland continues to cut a lonely figure, there hasn’t been the same fervor and ruthlessness in attacking areas as of yet.

In the first eight games of last season, the Blues scored 23 goals (and would add another 10 in the final two games), but this year, they have only scored 17 goals.

 

In comparison to a year ago, Haaland has now only scored eight goals at this point.

If he kept up this pace, he would set a new record for goals with 38, which is still an incredible performance.

However, it is evident that things are not going as smoothly as they were earlier in 2023.

 

Again, this is not particularly surprising considering how different the starting XI is from the one that relentlessly pursued the treble.

This system’s key players haven’t been participating in games.

In addition to the departures of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, and John Stones have all occasionally been injured.

Kevin De Bruyne has also been declared out until the new year.

 

Thankfully, everyone should be fully healthy again after the international break, with the exception of De Bruyne, and Rodri and Stones’ returns could help City rediscover their rhythm.

There is no need to explain Rodri.

Given that City has lost each of the three games he has missed, it is abundantly clear how important he is to the team.

 

But Stones has also been a huge loss because his absence caused the tactical plan to change.

The No. In his role of switching from either right-back or center-back to a central midfield position and assisting City to dominate games on the ball, 5 was a revelation last season.

 

Stones needed to be moved further forward in order for Gundogan and De Bruyne to push up on their own, so Guardiola had been adjusting his side in an attempt to find a way to get more bodies up to support Haaland. Stones filled the gap, preventing City from having a gaping hole to take advantage of if they lost the ball.

Stones then added to the strength of the attacks as his confidence grew.

 

In Stones’ absence, however, Guardiola has altered the formation by moving Kyle Walker into a winger position and pushing Phil Foden further inside so that he can join players like Mateo Kovacic and Julian Alvarez in those attacking positions.

Even though it excelled against Newcastle, it has since begun to sputter.

 

Foden, Alvarez, Kovacic, or Matheus Nunes frequently crowded the attacking area and stepped on each other’s toes, which limited City’s play.

Instead of providing Haaland with the necessary support through incisive passing and risky crosses, it makes it harder for him to find space.

 

Due to Walker having to cover the entire right wing by himself and Foden, Jack Grealish, or Jeremy Doku frequently having to play more of a wing-back role, City is now weaker on the flanks.

Walker’s elevation has left the defense unbalanced, and with less midfield protection, City can be much easier to stretch and outnumber on counterattacks, as was the case against Wolves.

 

However, with Stones’ return, City will be able to go back to the strategy that served them so well last year.

Because of this, performances might soon get significantly better.

 

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