Manchester City currently sit seventh on the Premier League table, three points behind Manchester United and four behind league leaders Chelsea. They must improve this weekend against Fulham and here are five areas they need to focus on.
So far the defence of the Premier League champions has let them down. They have leaked an abnormally high number of goals with four conceded in three matches at home and three conceded in two matches away from home. This may not sound like a high number but it is considering this is a team looking to retain their title and also considering the fact that this is just under 25% of the total goals they conceded last season in just five games.
David Silva has been relatively anonymous in the club’s matches so far this season. It appears that teams are working out how to contain him tactically or someone is following him around the pitch and sticking to him like glue. City have to get Silva on the ball frequently because he is one of the most creative players in the side. He needs a bit more protection from Yaya Toure in the middle of the pitch.
The Manager’s Tactics
It’s not just this match but moving forward where the manager has to try and settle things down tactically. Roberto Mancini has been making a lot of changes in recent weeks and it’s impossible for City to progress unless they have a settled team and a settled tactical plan. This does make them unpredictable but they need to have a clear and concise idea over how they are going to get the better of Fulham this weekend.
City are blessed with the strikers they have at their disposal but they need to pick the right combination of attacking minds to take on the Fulham defence. Fulham have some heavyweight defenders like Brede Hangeland who are going to be all over a smaller player like Sergio Aguero. This could be a good match to use Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli who both carry a strong physical presence. Either would take some of the focus off of Aguero and allow him to do what he does best. Mancini should not be afraid to go 4-4-2 away from home because a 4-5-1 will allow Fulham to isolate the sole striker.
City need to inject some width into their team and this doesn’t just mean the midfield. The full backs have to get forward and provide an out if the team is playing very narrow football as has so far been the case. The Fulham defence may not be disciplined enough to drift along the pitch as a unit which means they will be vulnerable if city can get some genuine width in the side to play balls behind the back four.
If Manchester city can address these areas, not just against Fulham but for the rest of the season, then they will be in a very good position to retain their Premier League title as they come under heavy fire from rivals.