What really is happening with Manchester City?

City’s season’s recent background isn’t any better. Three straight losses on the travel in all competitions are a first since Guardiola’s debut campaign in October 2016. Additionally, they have lost three of their previous six Premier League contests. City must start moving quickly if they want to overtake Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.

Is Erling Haaland the issue?

Erling Haaland has scored 25 goals in 20 Premier League games so far this season, which may be the highest of any player currently playing in the top division. With his goalless performance against Spurs, Haaland now has just two goals in his past eight away games across all competitions. He also has no goals in his last four league games played away at big six clubs. As City approaches a crucial period of their season, the forward from Norway has begun to exhibit some concerning signals over the past several weeks.

But the worst set of numbers came from a poor performance against Tottenham. It is the first time in Premier League history that he has both zero shots and zero touches in the penalty area. In recent weeks, City’s failure to deliver the ball to their top striker has raised questions. His last four league games have included his four lowest game totals for getting targeted by a teammate after an off-the-ball run.

Haaland has made the second-highest amount of off-the-ball runs in the Premier League this season, so it is not through lack of effort on his part. But only 29% of the time has he been the target of such.

The team’s decreased collective goal-scoring output from past seasons is another issue for City. The number of Premier League goals scored by Guardiola’s team so far is precisely the same as it was after 21 games last season—53—but there is a significant difference in how evenly distributed the goals have been.

This season, Haaland has been responsible for 47% of the team’s goals in the Premier League. Last season, no player had a share higher than 13%. In addition, after 21 games, City had 16 different goal scorers. They only have 10 this year. In addition, with Haaland as a teammate, only Phil Foden, who has missed City’s previous four games, has more goals this season than at this point last year.

Manchester City lacking in tactics?

Many elements of City’s game have been carried over from their prior successful seasons. From a statistical perspective, their passing pace and speed are identical to last season, and their data suggest that their press is operating at its regular levels. The wide areas, notably the front three, are one area where City are marginally worse than in recent seasons. Following the summer departures of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish have become the go-to players on the right and left sides of the field, respectively.

The effective beginning point that pushes City to victory is typically their defence and ability to shut out opponents. However, this season, City has appeared to be both incredibly open in midfield and insecure at the back. This season, Guardiola’s team has conceded 21 goals in 21 games. Since Guardiola took control, City has only surrendered more than 20 goals after 21 games twice: in the 2016–17 season, during his debut, and in the 2019–20 season. The title was moved away from the Etihad Stadium both occasions.

Aymeric Laporte started this semester recovering from knee surgery, while John Stones, Ruben Dias, and Aymeric Laporte each had injuries that lasted a month.

It may be the cause of City’s higher goal-against average, higher shot total, higher expected goals-against total, and four times higher number of points surrendered from winning situations this season as compared to last.

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