In some fans’ and pundits’ opinion, Manchester City appears to be the team best equipped to challenge Chelsea for the Premier League title. But last Saturday 2-1 defeat at Wolves showed that despite all the talent there are evidently a few holes that need to be filled in. First credit must be given to Wolves who were outstanding and fully deserved their victory – coming back from a goal down after a soft penalty decision against (Richard Sterman) on David Silva, slotted away coolly by Abebayor. I am on the side of the fence that believes Wolves play very good football and have been mislabelled as a physical football team.
Manchester City has two major concerns, in midfield and upfront.
Case 1: midfield: for all the talent it possesses, the three-man midfield last Saturday of Barry, Milner and Ya-Ya Toare were simply leaving full-backs Micah Richards & Jerome Boateng exposed again. Two direct and talented wingers in the in-form – Matt Jarvis and Stephen Hunt – led in wide areas to provide service to Edwards and Doyle. Proof of that were both of Wolves’ goals as first Jarvis and then Hunt had enough time and space to have tea and biscuits before providing the delivery.
Case 2: Attack: This is where City are still to find the right partnership. Without Tevez, City look lightweight upfront without a real striker with the predatory instincts that he possesses. Abebayor will have his moments of brilliance but more often than not frustrates, as with Balotelli; he is finding his feet and fitness and requires time to establish himself in the Premier League after his Jekyll (first half) and Hyde (second half) performance. Abebayor and Balotelli were not on the same wavelength for the match, running into same areas and not appearing to show a partnership together, City’s can only hope that Tevez’s return is speedy as otherwise this minor dip in form could have disastrous concequences.
I would like to see City play with two natural wingers (in Milner and Johnson), with Silva playing in the ‘hole’ behind Tevez (or at present Adebayor) to provide them better balance in wide areas and protection for the exposed areas at full backs – especially on the left, a position where City have employed 8 different team members already this season.
With some fine-tuning in midfield and upfront – something that will surely be corrected in the January transfer window – City will prove to be a side to challenge for the title, but they still have plenty to learn.