News Live Scores
Manchester City

Defenceless! Man City's brittle back four torn apart by Wolves to hand Liverpool eight-point lead

18:16 GMT+3 06/10/2019
Nicolas Otamendi Manchester City 2019-20
Premier League champions surprisingly beaten 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium to leave them chasing the leaders, with Pep Guardiola facing a headache

If you were to pick the team that had made a 4,000-mile round trip to Turkey in midweek, you would have thought it was Manchester City.

Limp, lifeless and lacking any spark, City were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Wolves, who just two weeks ago were languishing in the relegation zone.

Wolves fully deserved their shock victory at the Etihad Stadium - the biggest surprise was that it took until the 80th minute to get the breakthrough through Adama Traore before he added a second in injury time.

City have big problems.

Wolves' counter-attacking again caused City's shambolic defence problems all afternoon and Pep Guardiola has some serious thinking to do over the international break.

It may only be October, and the Catalan won’t press the panic button just yet, but an eight-point deficit to a Liverpool side that are not making a mistake is starting to feel like a chasm.

City missed the fizz and energy of Kevin De Bruyne but their problems stem from a distrust in their back four.

The defence may have only conceded just one goal in the five matches ahead of facing Wolves but they had ridden their luck rather than looked unbreachable.

A week ago, Everton had more shots on target against a Guardiola side than any match in Premier League history and Wolves were ready to put the backline under similar pressure.

Against Wolves, his defence resembled the square pegs in round holes that they were.

Guardiola has had some major successes at reinventing players in the past. Converting Philipp Lahm into a defensive midfielder at Bayern Munich and more recently making Oleksander Zinchenko into a reliable left back.

With Benjamin Mendy suffering a slight hamstring strain that is expected to only keep him out for the one game, the City boss still had Zinchenko and summer signing Angelino as back-up.

Zinchenko hasn’t quite found the form that made him an ever-present in last season’s title success while Angelino is still adapting to Guardiola’s style, so right-back Joao Cancelo surprisingly moved across for his first Premier League start since joining from Juventus.

City have scraped by for two seasons without Mendy and a recognised backup, yet the position is still an issue.

Cancelo didn’t make any major blunders and generally dealt with the speedy threat of Traore in the first half, but City lost so much of their own thrust that so often comes from wide positions.

Zinchenko came on half-time, with Cancelo back in his more recognised spot at right-back, and City looked more balanced but were no less sturdy.

There was no such quick answer to the problems in the centre of defence where City looked most alarming, with midfielder Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi looking like strangers.

There was an early warning inside six minutes when neither player dealt with a misdirected pass, allowing Patrick Cutrone to race through on goal, only to shank his effort horribly off target.

A sloppy pass from Riyad Mahrez had City backpedalling again 15 minutes later and, when Raul Jimenez rode Otamendi’s weak challenge, Fernandinho made two last-ditch blocks to prevent the opener.

Moments later, Otamendi remarkably gave the ball away and the combination of a desperate tackle from Fernandinho and block from Ederson rescued him again.

Wolves kept persevering and finally got the breakthrough when Cancelo gave the ball away, Otamendi made a woeful challenge and Jimenez squared it to Traore to finish.

Jimenez and Traore did the same for the second and suddenly City are eight points behind their rivals.

A decision to not replace Vincent Kompany in the summer is now looking like a major mistake.