Is Manchester City's attack fatigued or figured out?
The Premier League's marquee matchup between Manchester City and reigning champions Liverpool ended in a tame 1-1 draw with Mohammad Salah and Gabriel Jesus getting on the scoresheet for their respective teams.
While neither side would be too discontent with the draw, Liverpool would certainly feel much better about coming away with a point, given their plethora of injuries in midfield and defence. What would concern City boss Pep Guardiola is not the six-point gap between his side and Leicester who sit atop the league standings but rather the baffling lack of attacking production from the four-time Premier League champions so far in the league.
Through seven matches, City have scored just 10 goals in the league, by far the lowest by a Pep Guardiola team in his managerial career. No City player has managed more than two goals in the league, with Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden all managing a couple so far and outside Kevin De Bruyne, who leads the team with three assists, only four other City players have set up their teammates for a goal this season, all with just one assist to their names.
For the depth and talent in the attack that City possesses, their form in front of goal in the league defies logic. And perhaps what is more intriguing is that City's goalscoring concerns are only limited to the league, as they have managed nine goals in three games in the Champions League and five in two League Cup games.
While City's lack of goals can be attributed to the absence of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus for the majority of this campaign so far, their chance creation too has taken a significant dip. Having led the league in chances created by a comfortable margin in each of the last three campaigns, City currently sit sixth, behind the likes of Aston Villa, Leeds United and Brighton.
De Bruyne leads the team with 17 chances created which is second only to Salah in the league, but the team’s second-best creator this season, Joao Cancelo sits at 16th with 11. No other City player features in the top 25 creators in the league. Last season, four of their players were in the top 16 for chances created in the league.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly has caused this dip in City’s attacking impetus. Perhaps its teams in the league figuring them out tactically or the sheer volumes of games coupled with the short summer break making it difficult for the City players to recover and be their sharp selves on the field.
However, the fact remains that City are struggling offensively and Guardiola has to fix it in short order.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Clive Brunskill