Manchester City edged a point closer to Leicester City at the top of the Premier League table but this result surely represents ground lost by them in the title race. Rather than increase the pressure on the leaders, Manuel Pellegrini’s side performed like men who should worry about being overtaken by West Ham or Manchester United in the top four. The predicted would-be champions by most pundits pre-season have not won back-to-back league games for five months.
The BBC commentator Guy Mowbray made an interesting comment that when City deploy a 4-4-2, it completely blunts the brilliance of David Silva. Silva is suited to playing the number 10 role and when deployed in a 4-4-2 he is not able to influence games.
John Ruddy made a couple of good saves from Aguero in the first half, but one would expect far more threat from City chasing the ten point lead of Leicester. The dynamic of Aguero and Bony just does not work, and is very ineffectual. Sterling was once again relegated to the bench with Navas preferred, however Navas was just as poor as Sterling has been recently.
Alex Neil the Norwich manager gave Patrick Bamford the start in place of Cameron Jerome, and Bamford had Norwich’s best chance volleying a shot off the bar. Sterling replaced Bony on 58minutes but City’s clear cut chances were very few and far between. Very much like a rudderless ship City just drifted through the 90 minutes. Aguero tried in vain but was feeding off scraps once again.
Norwich deserve credit for their organisation and their growing belief which fed off the growing disillusionment of the City team and fans.
Iheanacho displayed a lot of energy when he came on for Navas on 78 minutes with Sterling, but it was fairly headless, with no real penetration. Aguero growing more and more frustrated with his team mates, tried to affect things on his own more and more. City have won 2 of their last 5 away games, they are clearly lacking in belief, and there are many Yaya Toure detractors but he possesses more guile and threat than a very very average midfield of Silva, Ferdandino, Fernando and Navas. Those four clearly lack Midfield leadership and do not reflect well on the spending under Sheikh Maktoum.
The watching Pep Guardiola, will be growing more and more disconcerted with the work needed at Manchester City. Otamendi once again made mistakes to give Norwich chances, Mbokani should have done a lot better with Otamendi’s mistake but snatched at his half chance. City’s Premier League challenge fizzled out without a fight. Pellegrini seems dis-interested and his last substitution Sagna for Zabaletta summed up his haphazard decision making.
Norwich were delighted with their unexpected point, and the City players were suitably dejected. Man City require a huge war chest, and the conveyor belt of failed centre backs Jerome Boateng, Martin Demichelis, Eliaquim Mangala, and Nicolas Otamendi sums up the theory that money does not solve all the problems of a football team. Guardiola will no doubt purchase a partner for Vincent Kompany as his first piece of transfer spending.