Any lingering euphoria from Monday’s night win over Newcastle quickly disappeared as City succumbed to their first defeat of the season away at Cardiff. Here is a look at the main talking points of the game.
Alarm bells were ringing when Javi Garcia was selected to replace the injured Vincent Kompany in central defence but it would be unfair to place all the blame for the defeat on him. In truth, City gifted Cardiff the three points thanks to collective and individual defensive errors. For the first Cardiff goal, Kim Bo-Kyun was all too easily allowed to reach the by-line by strolling past three players unwilling to make a challenge to cross the ball for Aron Gunnarsson to score. If you think it couldn’t get any worse it did for Cardiff’s second and third goals.
Fraizer Campbell must have felt like he was on the training ground such was the ease at which he scored his brace. On both occasions, Joe Hart was poorly positioned whilst Pablo Zabaleta hopelessly scrambled after the advancing Campbell who headed in. As for the rest of the team, they remained rooted to the spot and might as well have not been there.
Yesterday’s performance felt ominously similar to a lot of City’s away performances from last season: dominate the possession and do little or nothing with it. Save for the two goals from Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo (which were both excellent) City found themselves up against ten men behind the ball unable to penetrate successfully. Key players like Silva and Navas were heavily man-marked and sloppiness crept into play in the final third.
Overall, City had 56% of possession. In the first half they completed more than double the amount of passes than Cardiff and in the period immediately after Cardiff equalised they dominated possession with in excess of 70%. Despite this dominance of the ball City only managed 5 shots on target. It is inevitable that a lot of opposition teams will try and shut up shop against City so the sooner that Manuel Pellegrini and can find a solution to break such teams down the better.
A fair result
In the end, the result was a fair reflection of the game. Whether Cardiff deserved to win or rather City deserved to lose I am too sure. One thing is for sure, however. City cannot expect to win games of football without getting the basics right. The season is young and Manuel Pellegrini has time to rectify the defensive issues that were brutally exposed yesterday.
Cardiff City 3 (Gunnarsson, Campbell x2)
Man City 2 (Dzeko, Negredo)
Written by Robert Toole