Handed their first defeat of the new Premier League season, Manchester City are now six points adrift from table-toppers Leicester City.
Losing 5-2 to Leicester at the Etihad yesterday, three Foxes penalties resulted in a comfortable victory for Brendan Rodgers’ team.
A cold Sunday of top-flight football to forget for City boss Pep Guardiola, Leicester's hat-trick hero Jamie Vardy returned to the East Midlands with the match ball under his arm.
The hosts were quick off the mark as Riyad Mahrez sent a firecracker from the edge of the box into the top corner within four minutes. A goal to the good courtesy of the former Fox, the Algerian netted his first of the 2020/21 campaign.
Leicester, however, took just over half an hour to draw level in Manchester. When City defender Carl Walker carelessly brought down Vardy in the penalty box, his fellow countryman blasted home a powerful equaliser from 12 yards – Leicester’s first shot on target.
City struggled to hold back a strong Leicester attack in the second half, Guardiola disappointed with his sides worst home defeat since joining the club in 2016.
Poor Second Half Cost City
Sat in the bottom half of the table, a lacklustre second 45 minutes will concern Guardiola and his coaching staff.
Whilst Leicester continued their unbeaten run, it appeared City could not read the danger. The Foxes laid out a blueprint of how to cause problems playing a high line and demonstrated City’s lack of ability to defend when opposition drift goal side.
Whether scoring from close range (Vardy) or from 25 yards (James Maddison), attackers are frequently allowed too much time and space when penetrating a supposedly solid line of defenders.
Whilst camping in Leicester’s defensive third as they controlled the first half, City in the second welcomed mistakes and left several gaps.
Nathan Ake’s late consolation goal (his first for City) was nowhere near enough to salvage anything from a struggling performance.
City’s Defensive Woes
Conceding from three penalties, all eyes turned to a torrid defensive City display. A quick and agile striker, former England forward Vardy caused problems for Walker, Eric Garcia, Ederson and indeed the whole back line.
Foxes midfielder Maddison eased passed Benjamin Mendy and as a result had to be stopped by illegal means - leading to the penultimate penalty (four minutes after Vardy’s second goal).
Whilst City desperately try and sign Benfica defender Ruben Dia, it will be John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi who watch in the most pain as Guardiola chases a right-sided central defender before the transfer window closes on 5th October.
For the first time in 686 games, a side managed by Guardiola conceded five goals. Only the second occasion in his legendary career that the Catalonian has lost an opening home game of a domestic campaign as a manager.
Is a four at the back too orthodox? Can Walker and Mendy play in wing-back positions? It is fair to say that the majority of Man City’s problems reside in a weak and clumsy defence.
Putting The Game To Bed
The tale of the tape across the Premier League, chances were simply not converted when they ought to have been. Despite a second half of vulnerability, the opening 45 minutes welcomed chances from the likes of Fernandinho to score when only eight yards out – a key moment from a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick to double the hosts lead.
Clear cut opportunities cannot go begging if City want to challenge for the Premier League title again this season. With the injury list growing and without Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, it may well be down to Raheem Sterling as the false number nine to rally the troops and ensure goals are scored.