It’e been arguably the most difficult week that Manchester City have faced this season.
In what has been the best season the club has had since the 2008 takeover, these last six days have seen errors that are reminiscent to last season. In the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool at Anfield, the Citizens crumbled under the intense atmosphere and the effect of the incident that lead to their coach being battered by Liverpool fans in the build-up to the game.
Goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane have given Pep Guardiola’s side a mammoth task to overcome when both sides meet again for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
A few days later, City would play Manchester United, their fierce rivals and the team that they have left behind in points this season at the top of the table. A win at the Etihad would all but seal their third Premier League title. A free-flowing, dominant start from the Citizens saw them head into half-time at 2-0, with goals from Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan. The second half, however, brought something that we have not seen City do for a long time: throw away a two-goal advantage.
Within minutes, Paul Pogba, a man who had been talked about in the media for allegedly being linked with with a move to Manchester City by his agent Mino Raiola, had scored two goals to bring his side back from the dead. Ten minutes later, Chris Smalling, arguably one of the worst players on the pitch for United in the first half, had given United an unlikely lead in a game that they looked to have lost.
At full-time, they celebrated like they had won the league themselves, albeit in delaying the inevitable. City fans in the crowd were seen crying in the stands as their chance to embarrass their fierce rivals had been taken away from them by their own team’s sudden ineptitude at the back.
This week has been eye-opening for Guardiola. Despite him shutting up the critics of last season, he now has had to deal with criticisms of his side’s mentality and whether or not they can win these crunch matches that could move them into the elite bracket.
In this article, I will assess the current state of City’s squad and how they can develop themselves to beat Liverpool at Anfield and take advantage of big games such as United on Saturday to continue their imposing influence, as well as their ability to win the Champions League in the future.