Liverpool posed a rare test for Pep’s imperfect defence
THERE weren’t many people making cases for the City defence on Sunday.
A Blues backline without Ederson and Aymeric Laporte were ripped apart by pundits, spectators, and – many would say – the Liverpool attack as Pep Guardiola’s side fell to a damaging 3-1 defeat at Anfield.
The result was taken as confirmation that the Premier League champions cannot defend their title with such a weak defence, and fans have called for January reinforcements to sort it out.
Former skipper Vincent Kompany, the man who led them to the title last season, was more level-headed and does not think they have to spend.
“The best way for City to defend in the past has been to attack. They have no reason to change that,” he added. “As soon as they start reconnecting with the best performances, I’m convinced that we can see a sustainable amount of wins.”
It may not be a popular opinion after Anfield, but the Liverpool game was more a case of things going unusually wrong in both boxes.
According to Wyscout, City had 18 shots, three on target and an expected goals total of 1.3. In other words, they did not test the goalkeeper much but created enough chances to score at least once. Five of the 11 shots they conceded were on target but they still restricted Liverpool to an expected goals total of 0.8.
Not scoring the goals you are expected to and conceding more than you should are not hallmarks of a good team, and Guardiola should be worried if it is a trend in the longer term.
But it isn’t. Until the weekend City were outperforming both expected goals and against, and are still more than two ahead of their expected goals for – even after the Liverpool disappointment.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the City defence does not need improving. It was clear in summer that they looked short on bodies and quality for what they want to achieve this season and the Laporte injury has exacerbated that. With question marks over John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo’s contract up in summer, significant changes could be on the horizon.
However, Kompany’s point – however unpopular in the various inquests over another Anfield defeat – may still hold true for the majority of Premier League games they play. Liverpool are arguably the only team on the same level as this City side, so the chances of coming across a team as clinical that gets as much rub of the green as Jurgen Klopp’s side did on Sunday is extremely rare.
Guardiola must decide how far from perfect he can live with his defence being as he weighs up the extent of the changes that need to be made.
Pep Guardiola gets agitated at the Liverpool game on Sunday