Manchester City’s goal-shy attitude almost costs them again

Manchester City were on the brink of back-to-back draws before Raheem Sterling scored late on for the second game in a row to grab a dramatic win over Bournemouth.

The England international is showing real signs of becoming a key player for City this season. While two wins and a draw is a good start to the campaign, City’s biggest issue from last season doesn’t appear to have been fixed. Despite having the majority of possession in all three league games this term, Pep Guardiola’s squad haven’t been able to turn it into goals.

The inability to turn possession into goals cost Man City often last season, particularly in their seven home league draws, and has already bit them against Everton and almost against Bournemouth. 75% possession is great but only if you get the goals to show for it.

At times last season and early this season, Pep’s squad seem to forget that the point of the game is to score as opposed to playing keep ball. The former Barcelona manager’s system sets his team up to maintain possession, but his players appear too nervous to attempt the killer pass with the occasional exception, such as David Silva’s assist for Gabriel Jesus’ opener on Saturday.

Manchester City is a club with some of the best attacking talent in the world and should be capable of scoring three goals against every bottom half team no problem, especially with possession for three quarters of a match.

They’ve gotten away with it so far, but the club’s goal-shy attitude isn’t going to cut it against the bigger clubs and it cost them two points against Everton.

Pep Guardiola needs to figure out a way to urge his players to play more passes towards goal as opposed to constantly passing outside the box. New full-backs have been brought in to bring more attacking width and to play crosses into the box, but often only one player is waiting in the area and constantly finding one player is too much to ask even for world-class full-backs.

If Manchester City are to bring the title back to the Etihad, this goal-shy possession style needs to go. The club is capable of scoring a litany of goals but often appears to settle for just enough.

That will not work very well against Manchester United or Chelsea, and the match against Liverpool after the international break will be a perfect test for Pep’s squad.