What Are Manchester City's Most Obvious Weaknesses?
After a summer of sensible transfer activity at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City look far better equipped to launch an assault on the Premier League title than they did last season. They’ve added some real quality in areas they were desperately lacking and, as a result, now have more options in terms of how they can set up tactically.
But are there any weaknesses?
One player City definitely lacks is a quality left-back capable of competing with Gael Clichy for a starting berth. Clichy has been excellent for City and at £7 million (via BBC), represents one of the best pound-for-pound signings the club has made since the takeover in 2008. He’s incredibly quick, excellent going forward and defends superbly a majority of the time. He recently signed a new four-year deal and is very much a part of City’s plans.
However, competition for places is essential in any squad. Aleksandar Kolarov is City’s second-choice left-back, but he has flattered to deceive since arriving from Lazio for around £16 million in 2010 (via BBC). The Serbian lacks pace and positional sense, and he has struggled to nail down a first-team place.
It seemed certain he would move on after a dreadfully poor 2012-13, but Juventus’ interest, for whatever reason, never materialised into a concrete bid.
Against the best sides in the league, Kolarov struggles badly: Going forward he offers very little and defensively he's a liability.
Some observers see him as a dangerous free-kick taker but that area of his game has been somewhat overblown, and no player can justify their place in a side based purely on taking set pieces. He also has a frustrating tendency to shoot from impossible angles.
The good thing for City is that Pablo Zabaleta has proven more than capable of switching sides and operating at left-back before. Because of injuries to Micah Richards and Maicon, he played exclusively at right-back last season, but he had previously been deployed there to great effect.
Once Micah Richards returns from injury, it is possible to use Zabaleta on the left if Clichy is unavailable or in need of resting.
City could also do with another out-and-out wide player in the mould of Jesus Navas. The Spaniard has solved City’s chronic width problem and added pace to their attack, but if he was to find himself injured, they would once again be in the position of having no genuine wingers.
Players like Samir Nasri and David Silva can play from a wide position, but their game involves drifting inside and looking to thread neat balls into the feet of others. Navas is the only City player who looks to go around the outside, beat the opposition full-back with pace and provide a cross.
It’s something City missed last season.
It would only take one injury to their new star and they would be right back to being the narrow team that, at times, struggled to break down certain sides in Roberto Mancini's final campaign.
Other than that, City look very strong and should be capable of mounting a far better title challenge than they did last time out.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity
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