Manchester City players Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte have not kicked a Premier League ball since losing to Tottenham in November.
Pep Guardiola spoke to the Manchester City players after the derby about what he thinks are their problems.
Whatever was said didn’t change anything against West Brom, and another tumultuous performance left frustrated fans questioning the use of two defensive midfielders against a Premier League fighter when they couldn’t score more than one goal and cashed anyway.
There will be the usual considerations about the type of team that the manager selected the second before kick-off, but more important than form or staff is performance and result.
If the team is able to win, and even better, while playing well, everything will be fine and the test that has been set up will dissolve. However, that is much easier said than done.
Gabriel Jesus has now played seven games and five weeks without a goal, a figure that no defensive pressure can compensate.
Raheem Sterling is also underperforming and Riyad Mahrez is the club’s top goalscorer in the league but has only found the net in two games.
Ferran Torres has an excellent return but has slipped back on the bench in the past few games while Sergio Aguero is still a long way from getting back to his rhythm.
Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte were the two best players as City retained their league title in the 2018/19 season. Now neither have had a kick in the league in a team that has been anything but successful since the game in Tottenham.
City bet three points against the fighting Baggies to keep in touch with the Premier League leaders.
Ilkay Gundogan’s goal in the first half seemed to have put City on the path to victory, but after the visitors equalized with an own goal from Ruben Dias shortly afterwards, the Blues failed to convert their relentless pressure into a winning goal.
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If John Stones was impressive alongside Ruben Dias, it was strange that Laporte was back on the bench with Nathan Ake mid-week: will Laporte get his chance after the defensive mistake for the West Brom game?
Bernardo also had to wait for his opportunities; Given that the attack impulse hasn’t actually returned in the last month, it could be brought back from the wild.
Southampton will be a tricky opponent. They beat the Blues in this game last season, as they did in July, and showed their improvement under Ralph Hasenhuttl with an excellent start to this campaign.
But the Blues are under pressure for their rivals after two lengthy draws and midweek wins. Guardiola has not lost three games in a row since his first season at Etihad when it was clear things were so bad that a major reshuffle was imminent this summer.
Failure to beat Southampton will not be considered a terrible outcome in itself but the pressure is on.
Manchester City F. . C.. . , Southampton F. . C.. . , Premier League, Pep Guardiola, Ralph Hasenhüttl, Sergio Agüero
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