Can the Champions League save Manchester City's Underwhelming Season?

This image is a derivative of Etihad Stadium Tour by Daniel (CC BY 2.0)

Finishing with 81 points on the table with 25 wins and a goal-difference of +67 is usually the calling card of a title-winning team.

Yet for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, this season has represented a steep fall from grace.


Given the fact that this same team finished with a record breaking 100 points in 2017-18, and 98 points in 2018-19 is indication something went seriously wrong for the Citizens over the last 12 months.

So what happened with City this past season and is there any scope for salvation?

POOR PERFORMANCES AGAINST THE BEST

The number of losses and overall performances against fellow top-4 opponents dipped sharply this past season.

In City's previous two title-winning seasons their record against the very best was exemplary, combining for 26 of a possible 36 points, continually stepping up in the big moments.



This season however, they netted just 6 points from a possible 18 against top-4 foes, dropping both games to bitter rivals, Manchester United, and falling to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 1-2

While they did get the better of Liverpool a few weeks ago, it was only after The Reds had claimed their drought-breaking trophy. They were, of course, smashed by the champions earlier in the season, falling 1-3 at Anfield back in November. 

While City did manage to beat the likes of FA Cup winning Arsenal twice, and in rather convincing fashion both times, this was a Gunners team who had their worst season in over 25 years, and who ultimately finished 8th on the table. Even then, Arsenal was able to get revenge on City and knock them out of the FA Cup in the Semi-Final. 

INJURIES TO KEY PLAYERS

Another defining factor contributing to City’s failures this season was injuries to a few key players.

Sergio Aguero, who carried the burden of City’s attack in all their title-winning seasons, was missing for more than half of the season.

The impact the Argentinean international has on the team simply can't be understated. 

In just 18 appearances this season, he scored 16 goals and continues to be the second highest scorer in the team behind only Raheem Sterling, City’s premier attacker this season.

While Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne did take over the mantle and scored 33 goals between themselves, the absence of Aguero was sorely felt. 

With 21 goals in the previous two seasons, Aguero was destined to break his goal-scoring record in a single season this year, however a knee injury put a dent to his campaign, and in the process, City's title hopes as well. 

Additionally, injuries to Leroy Sane, who has now joined Bayern Munich, and now Aymeric Laporte, have hampered City’s title defence this season.

Sane was a key player in City’s title wins over the past two years, having a say in 20 goals last season (10 goals and 10 assists) and 25 goals in the 2017-18 season (10goals and 15 assists). He picked up a serious knee ligament injury last August which has kept him on the sidelines for the entire season.

Along with Laporte, Benjamin Mendy had another season filled with constant injuries. With a whopping £112m spent on both players combined (£60m for Laporte and £50m for Mendy), it's no surprise that their defence hasn't been at its best this season.

ALL IS NOT LOST

Despite their failures this season, all is not lost for Manchester City. 

With the Champions League set to resume next week, City will be looking to lift the famous trophy for the first time in their history. 

However, they will be up against the formidable Real Madrid in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie, with the Spanish giants fresh off yet another La Liga crown, and who themselves have collected a record 13 European championships.

Zinedine Zidane’s men have gone 11 games unbeaten, conceding just 5 goals in those matches. Their defence has been first rate all season, conceding just 25 goals in La Liga, with Sergio Ramos still leading the way at 34 years of age. Their decorated captain played 35 games this season and chipped in with 11 goals of his own which was second only to Karim Benzema's 21

While Real's defence has been brilliant, this is a City team good enough to dial up 102 goals in the Premier League this season which was the joint third highest in EPL history. 

Having already won the first leg away from home 2-1, City will look to put the nail in the coffin when Zidane’s men come visiting on August 8. Guardiola will be licking his fingers at the thought of taking on a team which was once his bitter rival, and against whom he boasts a phenomenal record. In his 17 clashes against 'Los Blancos', Guardiola has either won or drawn on 13 occasions, losing outright just 4 times against the famous club.

Did you enjoy this article? Join our free mailing list to get the best content delivered straight to your inbox, or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on the Stats Insider Twitter or Facebook page.

Rajdeep Singh

Rajdeep is a freelance sports journalist and passionate sports enthusiast who loves watching tennis, cricket, and soccer. In his free time, he likes to binge-watch The Office on repeat and eat lots of food.

Related Articles
Loading...
See All Articles
A new version of Stats Insider is now available! You'll see it when you next reload the page, or you can click here to go to it now!