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Manchester City struggling with tactical shift in marking methods

Pablo Zabaleta concedes that the team are still adapting to Manuel Pellegrini's insistence on a man-marking system.

'The game was decided by two corners,' said Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini in the aftermath of his side's upset defeat to Premier League newcomers Cardiff City on Sunday, August 25.

City, one of the favourites for the title this season, suffered a 3-2 loss in Wales but, had it not been for two defensive mishaps which thus allowed the Cardiff attack to capitalise, then the scoreline and points distribution for the match, may have had a different look.

Pellegrini, though, refuses to attribute blame 'centre halves were [not] a problem' and instead believes training drills will need to be practiced more often this week, ahead of the club's lunch-time game on Saturday against Hull City Tigers.

Such a viewpoint has been shared by defender Pablo Zabaleta, who admits the team are hurt by the manner in which they came unstuck — via set-pieces — and believes the Citizens are still adjusting to the tactics Pellegrini wants to apply. A man marking system, he claims, has replaced the zonal marking method that erstwhile boss Roberto Mancini employed.

'Two goals from set pieces for us is hard. It has changed for us as last season we were marking zonally and now it is individual marking and sometimes it is hard. But [Fraizer] Campbell was very strong in the air. We didn’t defend well at set pieces and it cost us the game.'

Pellegrini continued to lament: 'Two set pieces decided the match. Defending set pieces is the job of the whole team. It doesn’t matter who is guilty but to concede two goals from corners is too many.

'When we scored the first goal it could have been easy for us but it was very difficult. We lost because we didn’t concentrate.

'We will work on this during the week.'

image: © Mark Freeman

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