This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Liverpool have taken a massive step towards a maiden Premier League title win after beating Manchester City 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. The defeat leaves the champions nine points behind the Reds in the table after just 12 games and places their credentials this season into serious doubt.
Throughout the game, Pep Guardiola’s men were second best across the pitch, but one area which was exposed in particular was central defence. The injury to Aymeric Laporte has caused problems at the back for City, with the club immediately losing to Norwich and then falling to defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers not long after.
Now, after the loss to Liverpool, it is clear – if it wasn’t already – that the champions made a massive error in not recruiting at the back in the summer window. The loss of Vincent Kompany was always going to be a miss, with the City legend’s 360 appearances helping collect four Premier League titles.
This has left Guardiola with only Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Laporte as his natural central defensive options, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis only just being promoted and Eric Garcia hugely inexperienced at 18.
Otamendi has struggled this season and was largely at fault for the defeat to Norwich, whilst Stones has looked lost without the Frenchman beside him. Last season at Anfield both Stones and Laporte were in incredible form and managed to keep the Reds at bay.
This time around, however, Stones’ performance simply shined a light on why City should have signed a centre-back in the summer.
The club’s failure to recruit a new defensive talent could ultimately prove to be their downfall as they bid to secure a hat-trick of Premier League titles.
Injuries happen all the time and as unfortunate as Laporte’s injury is, it is not exactly a surprise. Simply put, it is poor anticipation from City in that regard, who have clearly shown down the years that money is not an issue.
Whether the manager will spend in the January window remains to be seen.
However, he most definitely needs to open conversations with Txiki Begiristain about signing a new man at the back, regardless of whether he arrives in the mid-season window or next summer.