Manchester City midseason review: Errors and poor form prove costly in defence

As Manchester City trains in the sun this weekend in Abu Dhabi their season is on pause this weekend. While Pep Guardiola’s side is put through their paces here is a look at how their defence has fared so far this season. It’s the first part of the Manchester City midseason review series on

Defensive errors prove costly

It has been a mixed bag at the back for Pep Guardiola’s side. Costly errors have cost the champions at key times in several games. The most notable errors were during the champion’s 4-all draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and again during their 2-all draw at home to Crystal Palace. They also overcame defensive mishaps in their 3-2 win over RB Leipzig during match day 5 of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Costly errors saw the treble winners fall 2-nil down inside 32 minutes at the Etihad before a spirited fightback saw the European champions win 3-2. Defensive errors were a constant theme throughout City’s poor run of results during November and December.

A positive since those mistakes is that it seems that Manchester City have gone about rectifying the issue. Over their 6-game winning streak in all competitions before the winter break they looked a lot stronger at the back. They did have defensive issues in their 3-2 win over Newcastle. Eddie Howe’s side did get through the champion’s high defensive line to score twice in that game. While Kyle Walker was possibly at fault for one or both goals it still took two world-class finishes to breach the champions defence.

The defensive issues that plagued the champions during November/December do appear to be easily rectified. They have appeared to be down to defensive errors or key players down on form rather than City’s defensive set-up. Kyle Walker and Ruben Dias were well below their usual standards at times during the first half of the season. A positive is the pair both have looked closer to their best since the FIFA Club World Cup.

Injuries have also proven costly at the back for City. John Stones has missed large stretches of the season due to injury. He became one of the most important players in the champion’s set-up during their march to the treble last season. This season has seen the England international miss large parts of the season.

With the second half of the season set to begin next Friday Pep Guardiola will be hoping his defence tightens up. It was a key part of last season’s treble success and will be needed again this campaign.

Defensive player of the season so far

As it stands it’s a race between two players for Manchester City’s defensive player of the season so far. Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji have been the two standouts at the back. Both have been consistent and rarely beaten bar the odd occasion this campaign. But Nathan Ake gets the nod at this stage.

Ake has been Mr Consistent for Manchester City this season at the back. He rarely lets the team down and has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League so far this season. He doesn’t get the kudos other high-profile defenders in Europe get but he is every bit as good as them and vital for Pep Guardiola’s side. If Ake continues his strong form in the second half of the season there will be no doubt of his standing in the game.

A special mention must also go to Josko Gvardiol. The Croatian defender has slotted in at left-back which has allowed Ake to play centrally. Gvardiol has been at his best when City have possession but it is the early stages of his Manchester City career. He has been caught out defensively on occasion but his quality is there for all to see. The Croatian defender should improve as he adjusts to a new league and Pep Guardiola’s demands.


There is room for improvement for the world champions at the back. The first half of the season hasn’t been perfect defensively but the issues appear to be easily fixed. It would appear to be  issues with lapses in concentration and poor form rather than a tactical issue that have cost City at times this season. Both should be easily rectified as the season resumes next Friday night.

If Manchester City do tighten up at the back it could bode well for the second half of the season.

Tags Abu Dhabi Chelsea Crystal Palace Ederson John Stones Josko Gvardiol Kyle Walker Manchester City Manuel Akanji Nathan Ake Pep Guardiola RB Leipzig Ruben Dias Stamford Bridge Stefan Ortega Treble winners UEFA Champions League winter break