Manchester City supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their team record a vital victory in their second Champions League group stage clash on Tuesday night.
Pep Guardiola’s men went into their trip to German side Hoffenheim needing to bounce back after a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in their opening group game, and while they left it late on Tuesday, they did just that against the Bundesliga outfit. The Citizens fell behind within the first minute thanks to Ishak Belfodil’s strike, only for the visitors to respond thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and David Silva, the latter coming three minutes from time to secure a crucial victory for Guardiola’s side.
As such, there have been many thrilled City fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are now turning their attentions towards Sunday’s clash with Liverpool in the Premier League, and as such may well be intrigued by recent comments from Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas.
The former Arsenal and Celtic forward was having his say on the two defences ahead of this weekend’s encounter, stating that while he thinks they are ‘tremendously even’ at the back, Guardiola’s men ‘have more depth’.
And while he may be right regarding the depth in certain areas of the backline, the Sky Sports pundit neglects something crucial, as one of the Citizens’ biggest problems in the last 12 months has been at left back, and finding a replacement for Benjamin Mendy.
The France international made the move to the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2017 as Guardiola sought to completely overhaul his full back options, and while he brought in cover for fellow summer signing Kyle Walker down the right side in the form of Danilo, he didn’t down the left-hand-side.
And when Mendy suffered a knee injury against Crystal Palace in September of last year, which ruled him out for the majority of the season, that lack of depth in that area was clearly evident, as Guardiola utilised a number of players in that area in a bid to cover for the 24-year-old.
Danilo, Fabian Delph, and Oleksandr Zinchenko all deputised down the left-hand-side until Mendy’s return in the last knockings of the campaign, and while they all performed solidly, it was clear that none of them were overly comfortable in that area of the pitch.
And with Mendy again set to be missing against the Reds this weekend, Nicholas appears to have overlooked their issues down that side – the depth is certainly there in the rest of the backline, but not at left back.
And against a side like Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, that could be a problem and certainly an area for the Reds to target – centre back Aymeric Laporte played there against Hoffenheim and Zinchenko against Brighton last weekend to underline Guardiola’s concerns in that area of the field.
Yes, Nicholas is spot on to suggest that City have greater depth than the Reds in some areas of the backline, with Walker and Danilo at right back and the likes of Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones at centre back, but he appears to have neglected their obvious struggles down the left-hand-side – struggles which Liverpool will surely seek to exploit on Sunday.
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