Manchester City need key player to return to the side to regain balance

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Manchester City have been involved in a series of thrilling games, including draws with Chelsea and Liverpool, a comeback win over RB Leipzig, and a 3-3 thriller with Tottenham on Sunday.

Even though it adds entertainment for neutrals, Pep Guardiola is likely concerned about conceding 10 goals in four games.

Guardiola, who gained a newfound appreciation for the defensive side last season, is facing challenges this campaign, notably with the continued absence of John Stones due to injury.

Stones, who played a crucial role in the solid defensive platform last season, has started only four games this season and was an unused substitute on Sunday.

The absence of Stones has led to Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker, and Manuel Akanji forming the backline, with Akanji sometimes moving into midfield. While Akanji provides versatility, his absence in the backline is noticeable, especially in dealing with fast counter-attacks.

City’s defensive concerns are compounded by their struggles to capitalise on the chances they create.

Guardiola’s unwavering philosophy involves committing men forward, evident in moments like Phil Foden’s goal against Spurs, where six players were in the area and two more on the edge of the box.

The commitment to attacking football can leave Manchester City exposed defensively.

Unai Emery, having observed the success others have had on the counter-attack in City’s recent games, is likely to encourage his players to move forward with the confidence they’ve shown all season.

In his quest to win games in a certain style, Guardiola will be aiming for a return to the balance that proved successful during their treble-winning campaign. The availability of a fully fit John Stones would significantly contribute to making City a more complete and formidable force.

More Stories John Stones Kyle Walker Manuel Akanji Pep Guardiola Ruben Dias