After yesterday’s disappointing 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa, here’s a look at the main talking points from the game.
City dominated this match and quite how they managed to lose is baffling. All of the ingredients that were lacking in City’s previous two Premier League away games against Cardiff City and Stoke City were here for all to see against Villa: pace, power and fluidity. If truth be told, Villa barely had a look in.
A perusal at the key stats is testament to City’s dominance. They enjoyed 67% possession, had 20 shots to Villa’s 8 and won 12 corners. Possession wins you nothing though. City’s inability to take their chances cost them severely as Villa took their only chances and stole the three points.
Away Form Concern
With one point from a possible nine earned on the road this season, City’s away form has become something of a concern especially given the mediocrity of the opposition. If City are serious about showcasing their title winning credentials Cardiff, Stoke and Villa should not really be causing too many problems.
The all too familiar pattern of dominating play with a frustrating inability to breakdown the opposition is ever present. Throw into the mix the occasional lapse of concentration or disorganised defending and you give yourself a problem. Whilst yesterday’s performance was the best away league performance of the season so far, the result just goes to show that it counts for nothing unless the basics of defending are in place.
City need to sort it quickly, with away games against West Ham, CSKA Moscow, Chelsea and Newcastle United all to come in October. However, we shouldn’t be too down about yesterday’s match. We were by far the better side. Better finishing and better focus would have seen us win easily. A few tweaks here and there, and we could go on a good run.
The disparity between our home and away form is staggering, though. It doesn’t take a genius to realise where we need to improve.
Home form – 31 points from a possible 36 (ave 2.58 points per game)
Away form – 15 points from a possible 36 (ave 1.25 points per game)
City may feel slightly hard done by with Villa’s first two goals. Replays showed that Karim El Ahmadi was offside for the first goal and the decision to award a free-kick which lead to Leandro Bacuna’s excellent strike for Villa’s second was questionable. It all added to the feeling of a day to write off and try and forget about.
Where to start with Joe Hart?
A goalkeeper that just two seasons ago with brimming with confidence and looking pretty much unbeatable, is now a shell of his former self. His distribution remains a massive problem, consistently putting players under pressure with his poor kicking. He isn’t commanding his area well enough on crosses and errors have crept into his game.
Yesterday’s third goal was yet another clanger from him and he urgently needs to restore his old belief and ability.
A major problem is the lack of competition he faces for the No.1 spot, both for club and country. David Platt admitted recently that he and Mancini had agreed to bring in Begovic to replace Hart had they remained at the club. I’m not so sure about the wisdom of that but some kind of experienced competition is needed. It was put to me yesterday at Villa that Mark Schwarzer would have been perfect. A year of him putting healthy pressure on Hart would have done him the world of good.
Of course, his form of the past was so good that we’re willing to give him time to find that level again – but how long can Pellegrini wait?