Manchester City’s lack of creativity in midfield was on full display during City’s disappointing 1-nil loss to Arsenal. Gabriel Martinelli’s deflected strike was enough to secure Mikel Arteta’s side all three points. The treble winner’s lack of creativity in midfield was an issue as the game progressed.
Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne’s absence & the departure of Ilkay Gundogan
Pep Guardiola’s side went into the game without midfield general Rodri who served the final game of his suspension. City has now lost all three games he missed due to suspension. The needless red card he picked up against Nottingham Forest has cost the treble winners. His presence was missed against Arsenal, and the drive he provides his team. It was no surprise that City looked like their usual selves against RB Leipzig with Rodri back in the lineup.
The absence of Kevin De Bruyne also factored into the equation against Mikel Arteta’s side. The Belgian midfielder usually torments Arsenal, but he is out until the New Year. His influence has been missed greatly by the treble winners, but it is on his teammates to seize the opportunity his absence creates.
The summer departure of Ilkay Gundogan is another midfield void the champions need to fill. The former captain had a knack for performing in big games, and his creativity and his late runs into the box have been missed. Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have shown they are capable of picking up the slack left by Gundogan’s departure.
It will however take time for the treble winners to properly replace their inspirational captain and such a big game player.
City’s midfield against Arsenal
Guardiola went with Bernardo Silva, Mateo Kovacic and Rico Lewis in midfield to begin the game against Arsenal. Bernardo dropped in as a number 6 in an attempt to fill the void left by Rodri’s absence. As usual, the Portuguese midfielder toiled away, but it did rob the treble winners of his creativity elsewhere.
Kovacic had an afternoon to forget in midfield. He was fortunate to stay on the pitch after two rash challenges. After a promising start to his City career, his injury setback appears to have halted his momentum. Rico Lewis again showed promise in midfield. He was arguably City’s most dangerous midfielder before being substituted.
How Manchester City address the lack of creativity in midfield after the international break will be a story to watch for. City has the players capable, and new signings Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic need time to adjust to their new surroundings and demands from Pep Guardiola.
Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have shown plenty of promising signs this season in central roles. The sum of the European champions parts just needs more time together to gel and become used to each other.
With teams now stacking the middle of the park again Pep’s side, they have at times neutralised Erling Haaland. Opposing teams fear the Norwegian striker and have done their homework on how to stop City from feeding Haaland. The sooner Guardiola figures out a solution to the midfield issues, Haaland will be back on the scoresheet.
It’s not all doom and gloom with the champions sitting third in the table at the time of the upcoming international break.