Manchester City’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa on 6 December was their fourth winless Premier League game in a row. It was Aston Villa manager Unai Emery’s first ever win against a Pep Guardiola side.
Guardiola’s side have picked up three points from a possible twelve in fixtures against Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa. The run of results leave Manchester City fourth in the league, six points behind first place Arsenal.
Guardiola’s midfield has appear to be a major issue for the side. Against Aston Villa, centre backs John Stones and Manuel Akanji were forced to play in central midfield roles. The absence of star midfielders Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne has posed significant challenges to the reigning champions plans. Rodri’s absence has been particularly significant as Manchester City have lost all four games this season in which he had been absent.
Stars such as Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Jeremy Doku, and Rico Lewis have been rotated and tried in several positions in an attempt for City to form a strong, coherent midfield. It has currently proven unsuccessful. The lack of structure and absence of key players seriously threatens Manchester City’s title challenge.
The four recent results have seen points dropped to significant title challengers Liverpool and Tottenham. After the result on Wednesday night, Pep Guardiola declared Aston Villa “are title contenders.” The Midlands side currently sit in third, having overtaken Manchester City with their shock victory.
Manchester City’s run of fixtures sees them travel to Luton and Everton, as well as hosting Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. A far easier run of games than their previous four matches, City will look to regain their momentum and keep their pressure on the three teams above them. Arsenal and Liverpool (first and second) play one another on 23 December which will provide City with an excellent opportunity to catch up to the summit of the table.
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