In falling to a 1-0 defeat against Swansea at The Liberty Stadium last Sunday Manchester City – courtesy of cross-city rivals United’s win against West Brom – fell to second place in the Premier League table after a lengthy run in first place.
In many ways it may have been some time coming. Despite maintaining a record 100% home record this season – a record-breaking 14 games (19 all told stretching back to 2010/11) – City have struggled of late on their travels, taking just eight points from their past eight games (W2 D2 L4) and have scored just four goals during this run. All of which means that although possessing the second best away record in the Premier League with 24 points this is nine short of United’s (who were so average themselves last season on the road) total of 33 points, mitigating their excellent home return.
There has been plenty written and discussed after the loss and the impact that it has had on their title ambitions but what are the reasons for City’s struggles away from home of late? Are there any common factors from these games that can explain their troubles – and in the process provide an answer to help them get back on track.
I have broken down City’s away season into two parts: their first six games where they went unbeaten – winning five and drawing one – and their past eight fixtures that have seen them yield top spot to United. In doing so, I have looked at the keys areas of City’s performances: passing, final third ‘zone’, chances and shots.
The overall (i.e. for the total match) passing numbers over the two period splits are as follows:
As the following graph also shows, there isn’t a significant difference between the two in terms of pass completion but the past eight games average around 20 or so more passing attempts and completions per game:
If anything, City are managing to complete a slightly higher number of passes (25.80) per game than they are attempting (20.13), leading to an increase in completion % from 85.89% to 87.45%. However, when placed in context with the total number of passes per game, an increase of five completions per game is negligible – particularly when it is not clear where (and when) these passes were completed and what their outcome was.
Next Page: Final Third analysis…