The lack of intensity against City was my biggest concern from the loss on Saturday. Like against Chelsea, the sluggish start caused us a lot of problems, but unlike the Blues, Pep Guardiola’s side were able to take full advantage.
You could clearly see that the intention was to press high up in order to pressurise our opponents into making mistakes, but the execution of Poch’s strategy by the players was halfhearted at best.
It’s extremely important to press as a team in order to limit time on the ball, but there were numerous occasions on Saturday where one player would press the ball, and the others wouldn’t (or couldn’t) follow.
With that lack of intensity, City were able to play around us, picking passes where the press was at it’s weakest, and for the first half hour especially it was very difficult to watch.
You could blame the role that Davinson Sanchez played in both first half goals, but remember the high line which we play is always a risky ploy, if the press in front of the defence is not implemented correctly.
Pushing up is designed to restrict space, and stop attacks at their source, but when there is no pressure on the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, they will create chances when they have time to pick out passes.
Saying that though, the first goal was particularly poor to give away. Just one long ball from Vincent Kompany took out absolutely everyone and Davinson just wasn’t switched on to the danger.
The Colombian has had a good first season, but on his weekend’s performance, he has a lot to learn. But I’m not going to make him the scapegoat. The players around him left him, and the backline in general, pretty much exposed.
We tightened up in the second half, and got closer to our opponents. There were 10 minutes either side of half time where it looked like City were going to wobble once again, but even then it felt we were just not at the races to take advantage.
Following difficult first half displays versus Chelsea ad City, and a scrappy win against Stoke, I’m a bit worried that we are dropping off the high standards that have been set this campaign.
Hopefully we put in a good morale boosting display against Brighton tomorrow so we are in good shape for the semi-final against United. We can’t afford to lose our intensity at such a crucial point of the season.