The efficiency with which penalties are scored is often overestimated. However, the general rate with which they are converted is far higher than Manchester City have been able to muster in an admittedly minute sample size so far this season.
Having scored only four of the eight they have been awarded, Manchester City have managed to find a problem with one of the theoretically simplest parts of the game of football. Pep Guardiola’s tactical genius cannot really allow for missing from 12 yards, particularly when it is one of the best strikers in the world who has had the majority of the difficulties.
Penalties, due to the impression people have of them, are often excluded from statistics. They are a skill in themselves, though. There is a reason Frank Lampard and Alan Shearer were excellent penalty takers and there are reasons that others never convince from the spot. Without delving into the mentality, technique and training of said players, it is tricky to make a particularly reliable judgement. Sergio Aguero is one of the world’s best footballers and a lethal finisher in open play, his penalty difficulties this season may seem minor at the moment, but they can easily become a more fundamental problem for Manchester City.
For all their fascinating play, superb interchanging and pinpoint passing, even City cannot afford to be giving up chances as good as a spot kick. If it’s viewed as ‘just another chance’ then that is a problem. It is not just another chance, it is a gift in many cases. And due to their style of play and excellent dribblers, City are always going to win considerably more than their fair share of penalties. It is a natural consequence of possession in the opposition’s final third and having an enormous number of touches in their box.
Missed penalties leading to an early season draw against Everton can be accepted. Should spot kick woes continue, though. it will potentially have a far greater impact on their season. In a game with Barcelona, missing a penalty kick – or even several – will not be quite so insignificant.
What if their last minute chance to sneak into the Champions League final happens to be a 12 yard gimme and they have no faith in anyone to slot it home?
For a currently minor issue, this could quickly become a notable question around Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side. While the sample size is so small we can write it off as a freak, as a complete coincidence. Should it continue, however, questions will quickly be asked about how a squad full of players with such exceptional technique can cost themselves when given the simplest of chances.