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Manchester City are vulnerable in ways they haven’t been for years | Jonathan Wilson

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Manchester City are vulnerable in ways they haven’t been for years

City have conceded more goals a game than they have in each of the last three seasons.

City have drawn their last three Premier League games.

City have lost the last four games he has missed and Villa, who are just a point behind City, have won six out of six at Villa Park in the league this season, scoring more home goals than any side in Europe’s top five leagues other than Bayern Munich.

The assumption continues to be that City will click in the spring, when Guardiola’s training schedule has them at their peak; the question is how big a handicap they will be fighting to overturn by then and that game at Villa looks like one that could give Arsenal (away at Luton) and Liverpool (away at Sheffield United) the opportunity to stretch their advantage.

And City have conceded nine goals in their last four Premier League games, their worst run since 2016.

This season as a whole, they’ve leaked 16 goals in 14 games, or 1.14 per game, compared to 0.87 across the whole of last season, 0.68 the season before and 0.84 in 2020-21.

City have become a team who can be countered against, a problem they haven’t really endured consistently in the Premier League since Guardiola’s first season in charge.

There are obvious explanations: a drop in intensity after winning the treble was almost unavoidable, particularly given how long and fraught their pursuit of the Champions League had been; they are more direct now with Haaland, making it harder to get set to defend against counters; Jérémy Doku, brilliant dribbler though he is, does give the ball away more than is usual in a Guardiola side, exposing them to transitions; Rúben Dias has suffered a dramatic loss of form.

But perhaps most interesting is the seeming dependency on Stones, who has been restricted this season to just 257 minutes of league action across four matches.
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