Manchester City's Inconsistent Away Form Continues to Hold Them Back
Manchester City suffered another defeat on the road, losing 3-2 at Villa Park despite leading and being in complete control of the match with less than 20 minutes remaining. It’s a game they really should have won, and rediscovering the ability to win away games is now their number one priority.
City have taken just one away point from a possible nine so far this season in matches against Cardiff, Stoke and Aston Villa, and it’s clear to everyone their form away from the Etihad must improve if they are to challenge for the title.
However, unlike the previous two away performances which were lacklustre and poor, City played well here, and it’s a mystery how they didn’t come away from the match with three points. They dominated in every area but were punished severely from the few chances Villa created.
City moved the ball quickly and looked excellent at times going forward, with the game mostly played in the Villa half, but once again a failure to capitalise on chances and lapses of concentration allowed the opposition a route back into a match that should of been over.
The disparity between City’s home and away form continues to baffle. These tweets by City Watch make for staggering reading:
City have taken just 15pts from a possible 36pts away from home in 2013, averaging a mere 1.25pts per game. Surely this has to improve soon?— City Watch (@City_Watch) September 28, 2013
On the other hand, City have taken 31pts of a possible 36pts in 2013 at home, averaging 2.58pts per game. It's all very strange.— City Watch (@City_Watch) September 28, 2013
Manuel Pellegrini must find a way of reversing this trend of dropping points away from home. Poor starts from Manchester United and Chelsea, who are widely regarded as City's main rivals for the title, mean they could have established an early lead had their away record mirrored their home.
The form of Joe Hart, who came rushing out of his goal and failed to clear the ball before Andreas Weimann nipped in to score Villa’s winner, continues to be a worry for City. David Platt, City’s assistant manager under Roberto Mancini, admitted recently that the former manager had planned to sign Asmir Begovic as a replacement had he remained at the club (via the Star). Without a serious challenger for his place, Hart continues to be picked regardless of his performances.
Platt is quoted as saying:
Stu Forster/Getty Images
If Mancini and I were still at Man City this year, Joe Hart wouldn't be there, we made a decision to sign Asmir Begovic.
A once confident 'keeper now looks nervous. His distribution is poor, he isn’t commanding his area well enough and silly errors continue to blight his game. His brilliance in previous seasons has bought him patience from City fans, but he shows few signs of returning to the level he was playing at two seasons ago.
Pellegrini and Xabier Mancisidor, City's goalkeeping coach, will be working hard to restore Hart's confidence, and he has all the attributes to be a top 'keeper. Every great team needs a good goalkeeper.
Next up is the visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League this Wednesday before a tough match at home to Everton on Saturday.
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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