The Warm Down: No festive cheer for Guardiola’s
Fabian Delph was sent off in the latter stages of the game (Photo: Getty Images)

The Warm Down: No festive cheer for Guardiola’s boys

A rare, troublesome phase looming over the blue side of Manchester, as the Citizens lose grip on the title race after Leicester City emerge victorious at the King Power stadium. 

Jaidev Tripathy

Ricardo Pereira’s goal late in the game turned out to be the winning one, coming back from being 1-0 down after Manchester City took a usual early first-half lead via a Bernardo Silva strike.

Marc Albrighton cancelled out City’s goal just five mins later with a well-composed header from a Jamie Vardy cross. It was at the 81st minute when a tame Leroy Sane headed clearance reached Pereira, who smashed the ball through a host of sky-blue t-shirts, past Ederson into the back of the net.

Fabian Delph’s red card made matters worse for the Citizens as they ended the game on a bad note; losing for the third time in four Premier League games as Liverpool gain a clear lead and Tottenham Hotspur overtake them into second place.

The festive time has been extra kind to Leicester City, as they won against giants Chelsea and Manchester City in the span of five days. They are now just a place below the usual Premier League ‘top six’, four points off Manchester United. 

Missing Fernandinho?

Manchester City lose successive games against winnable opponents in the league. Fernandinho doesn’t feature in both those games. It’s a seemingly easy link.

Is Fernandinho’s absence a major part of City’s sudden downfall? Pep Guardiola himself hints at accepting this fact, recently stating: "Fernandinho is not able to play because he's injured, we know that, so we have to overcome. [Ilkay] Gundogan was good, he was good with the ball. We don't have a player like Fernandinho in the squad. In our position, we have to think about how to solve it."

Barring the game against Chelsea, the Brazilian midfielder undoubtedly has been a top factor in City’s amazing form since the last 2 years, functioning as City’s engine and making it all click.

With his sudden absence due to injury, the hole in City’s bonded team is evident. 33 years old, time isn’t the best of friends, and its’ on Guardiola to find a solid plan B and make things click again in times of Fernandinho’s absence.

Losing the lead

City didn’t learn a lesson after the speedbump against Crystal Palace, as they lost a lead for the second time in a row in just a matter of minutes.

Bernardo Silva’s goal in the 14th minute was cancelled out by an Albrighton’s header just five minutes later, as it’s been a case of letting the pressure get to them lately.

Slackness and complacency have often lead to City losing foot of the match in the past, with a repeated occurrence of a similar situation in the last two games.

A big talking point when it comes to challenging for the Premier League title, as resilience is a must-have element in any title-winner, evident in this City squad the last time around, but a clear lack of it this time around.

A matter of self confidence

Not a long time ago, City were rampant like ever before, smashing in goal after goal and preventing the opposition from getting the slightest sniff at their goal.

Suddenly, a defeat against Chelsea puts a downfall in motion, and in a matter of two weeks, the champions find themselves leading the table and rolling over teams; to struggling to keep up with Liverpool and slipping to third place behind Spurs.

Confidence is low in the camp, with the pressure catching up to them. It’s all a matter of regaining that self-confidence in this young and flexible City squad. As Guardiola himself admits, the squad mentally lacks the confidence in coping with situations like this. It’s all a matter of regaining that confidence back and kickstarting the momentum again as soon as possible, which is the least one expects from the most expensive team challenging for the title.  

Manchester City look to regain the confidence and get a much-needed result against Southampton on Sunday at the St. Mary’s, while the Foxes look to add to their run of positive results against Cardiff City a day before.