Manchester City face a crucial next two games for their Premier League title challenge. However, they first have to pick themselves up after an awful loss to Tottenham Hotspur in midweek. There is no time to rest with another game against Tottenham on Saturday, before the Manchester Derby.
Manchester City Face Crucial Games in the Premier League
Aftermath of Champions League
It’s the type of loss that will continue to sting for some time. Manchester City’s 4-3 win, but Champions League knockout at the hands of Tottenham is a brutal loss. Not just because of the VAR decision that correctly wiped out a winning goal in stoppage time, but because of the way City lost this tie.
It starts with the first leg. Pep Guardiola made it clear he did not want to have the same issues they had against Liverpool last season. His team was much more defensive and protective than he has played at any point in the last decade. Their 1-0 loss at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is what eventually cost them dearly.
When Manchester City look back on yesterday’s wild affair, it will be the first ten minutes that hurt the most. Specifically for Aymeric Laporte; the French defender had a nightmare start to the game. By the time ten minutes had passed, Manchester City’s most consistent player this season had cost them two goals.
It’s impossible to know what he was thinking when he tried to clear the ball with his right foot, but clearing straight to Son Heung-min was the worst possible thing. Then his awful touch that gave the ball to Tottenham on the halfway line again was finished by Son with great precision. It’s really tough to go out with one of your best players making mistakes like that.
Pick Themselves Up
Now is not the time to dwell on such a brutal game; Tottenham return to the Etihad on Saturday for a big-time league clash. Mauricio Pochettino’s men will see this an opportunity to get at a wounded Manchester City. It will be interesting to see which side can get out the traps faster in this game, as they will probably be the winner.
It’s tough to expect that Pep Guardiola’s side won’t be able to overcome this. City’s players have done well in the past overcoming a similar failure last season and will need to again. They have six more games this season; five Premier League and the FA Cup final. This game against Tottenham and then a trip to Manchester United four days later are City’s biggest hurdles.
The most important factor in this is that they are two points behind Liverpool in the race for the Premier League. With a game in hand over Liverpool, they could win the title if they win all of their games, so these two tough tests standing in their way each present their own challenges.
Tottenham and United
Once the game begins the Manchester City players will be ready for Tottenham. They could have issues with their mentality, but Pep Guardiola’s sides always bounce back from defeat. Tactically it would be surprising to David Silva out there. He was not good against Tottenham and has not been at his best these past few months. The 34-year-old retired Spanish international is still a valuable player for City, but this has not been a great start to 2019.
Beyond Silva, City will probably make some changes at the back, with Nicolas Otamendi set to start. Aymeric Laporte will most likely retain his place despite his errors, he’s just been so good for City this season. Expect to see Danilo in the starting lineup, probably at left-back. Nor would it be shocking to see Riyad Mahrez get a start in this game as well.
The big call will be whether or not Leroy Sane is in the starting line-up. Raheem Sterling’s excellent form on the left side of the front three has kept Sane on the bench in that position, and Bernardo Silva’s excellent press has kept him out on the other.
He is going to start one of these massive games, and it will be crucial. Over these next two games, City are going to need at least one good performance from Sane to win both. In these important games at the most crucial end of the season is when the best players have to rise to the top.
What will be the most crucial aspect of these games is Manchester City’s defence. Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Otamendi need to lock it down. This most recent game against Tottenham should be a jolt, and the game this weekend should be much lower scoring, but the emotions of the Manchester derby will probably create a more frantic game next week.
How City manage an open derby atmosphere will be the crucial point in their title challenge. Liverpool are not going to drop too many points down the stretch. If City can get past these two games they will feel in the driver’s seat for the Premier League title.