Manchester City’s great start to the Premier League has been greatly contributed to by their tight defence, with their last four games in all competitions finishing goalless at half time.
Their defence have started the season in imperious form, but their last game against Juventus saw some of their old defensive problems resurface.
The result meant City conceded as many goals against Juventus (two) as they had in their last eight matches combined.
Mario Mandzukic’s opening goal in the game was the first City conceded in 636 minutes, when the Croatian managed to steal past Eliaquim Mangala (pictured above right).
The French centre back has been key to City becoming only the fourth team to open an English top-flight season with five clean sheets.
The £32 million defender has shown great improvement this season, with his transfer much maligned for its large fee in his initial months at City.
Last season Mangala did not take the field in either Champions League clash with Barcelona and only played 45 of a possible 180 minutes against Manchester United, and that was because of a Kompany injury.
The veteran Martin Demichelis, who has also had his critics, kept him out the side.
However this season Mangala has already put in dominant performances to neutralise powerful forwards Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku.
The Frenchman has showcased a development of a greater football brain and tactical awareness to go alongside his incredible physical prowess, showcasing an impressive 88% passing accuracy so far this season.
When Alvaro Morata grabbed Juve’s second City’s defence was again susceptible, as Aleksandar Kolarov was victim to an unfortunate bounce.
The Serbian has been greatly praised for his link up with Raheem Sterling down the City left so far this season, grabbing himself a goal in the process.
However this reminds fans of questions about the flying fullback’s defensive abilities, despite the 6ft1 player having a 100% tackle success rate in the Premier League this season.
It can then be seen that Morata perhaps pulled new signing Nicolas Otamendi out of position too easily as he was getting his strike away.
Admittedly the Argentine may take some time to adjust following his move from Valencia, but City can’t afford these errors to occur on a regular basis if their hunt for glory is to be successful.
Image courtesy of Manchester City via YouTube, with thanks.