Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott believes opposition teams have worked out a formula to stop Pep Guardiola’s side – but he insists they are good enough to overcome anything that is thrown at them.
City started this season in stuttering form, winning just two of their first five Premier League games. That saw them drop off the pace being set at the top by Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Guardiola’s side though have since started to flex their title muscles with some consistent performances in the last few weeks. As such, Lescott is backing them to click into gear when it matters most.
Assessing why their form hasn’t quite been as it has in previous seasons, Lescott suggested teams may have ‘worked them out’.
“You would expect teams to have worked out a different approach against Man City. Not many teams have been successful against them in recent years, so managers adapt and try to find a way to make it difficult for them,” he told TEAMtalk at a BT Sport event.
“When you have been beaten comfortable by a team on a few occasions, it would be a bit naive to keep coming back with the same approach. So I expected teams to offer something different and it has made life more difficult for City.
“One issue is Man City are being compared to the high standards they have set for themselves. If they only win 1-0 or 2-0 now, people see that as a sign they are not as good as they were a few years back.
“Some teams can win playing ugly and they get praised for it. Unless Man City win 6-0, it is not deemed to be good enough. People ask whether they are off the boil. Bu they are finding their consistency now and they will be right in the mix for the title again.
“The league will be different this year. Spurs and Chelsea are competitive and that has given it a different edge. Some teams are taking points off each other and there’s some surprise results. City have a chance to make up the ground they lost at the start of the season.”
Aguero absence a factor
Lescott also believes the absence of Sergio Aguero due to injury has been a factor in their dip in City’s goals this season. Guardiola’s side have scored 13 goals less they they managed at this stage last season.
“They are not converting as many chances as they have done in recent years. That is why they have slipped up in a few more games over the course of this year,” added Lescott, who was a Premier League title winner with City in 2012 and 2014.
“When you are at the big clubs, the pressure is on to get to the latter stages and lift the trophy. They need to be more clinical in front of goal.
“At the back end of the Champions League, the best teams and the best players are there. They will punish you if you don’t take your chances.
“That’s what City have found in the Champions League over the last couple of seasons. But I don’t think they are putting too much pressure on themselves to win the competition. You need some luck in a cup competition at times. A few things have gone against them at crucial moments.”
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