Pundit John Barnes says Manchester City’s mixed start to the Premier League season which has yielded just eight points in five games is due to a “striker crisis”.
After winning the 2018 and 2019 titles with incredible hauls of 100 and 98 points respectively, City managed just 81 last season. That left them a massive 18 points behind Liverpool.
But any ideas that they’re resorted back to previous levels have been tempered so far.
Pep Guardiola’s men suffered a shock 5-2 mauling at home to Leicester in their second Premier League game of the campaign. And they’ve had to settle for 1-1 draws at Leeds and West Ham in their last two away fixtures.
That means seven points have gone in just five games. By contrast, it took them until mid-January three seasons ago to let that many points slip. That came via a 4-3 defeat to Liverpool in their 23rd game of the campaign.
City’s defence has been derided in recent times. But despite shipping five goals at home to Leicester, ex-Anfield star Barnes says the problem is at the other end of the pitch.
And it’s due to the loss to injury of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
He told BonusCodeBets: “Manchester City’s strange start to the season stems from their lack of fit strikers and not to do with their defence. Last year, when they were scoring plenty of goals, they were also still conceding goals and it was a defender crisis.
“Currently they have a striker crisis, they still play in the same way but don’t have their best strikers unavailable.
“They played last season without their main defender which meant they conceded goals. But playing in the same way this season without any strikers means they won’t score as many goals. They have to be more creative.
“They play fantastic football and it all looks amazing but if you don’t have anyone to put the ball in the net, like a Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, then they won’t score goals.
Barnes says Sterling not suited to striker role
Raheem Sterling has had to stand-in as their main striker or false number nine. But Barnes says it doesn’t really work.
“City aren’t a bad side without the strikers, because they are still an exceptional team,” he said.
“But having Raheem Sterling or Riyad Mahrez as the furthest forward is difficult as they aren’t naturally this way inclined.
“The difference at Liverpool is they have someone who likes to drop deep, Roberto Firmino.
“They still have Mo Salah and Sadio Mané who will score goals. Whereas when Manchester City play they are playing someone as the striker who isn’t a natural goalscorer.”
However, there was better news for City in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Ferran Torres played centrally and City ran out 3-0 winners in Marseille.