Keown spoke about Manchester City in a Mail column. Keown pointed out that Stones’ injury caused Manchester City to lose the balance last season, especially the defensive end became more vulnerable.
Manchester City have played some exciting games recently. 4-4 Chelsea, 1-1 Liverpool, 3-2 reverse against Leipzig, and 3-3 Tottenham. Although it was a visual feast for neutral spectators, Guardiola will be very worried about his side conceding 10 goals in four games.
Last season, Manchester City’s defense improved significantly, helping them win the treble. At that time, Walker, Ruben Dias and Akanji performed well, and Stones was pushed into the midfield.
However, with Stones only making four appearances this season due to a hip injury, this has become a big problem for City. We saw Akanji being used as a centre-back moving into midfield, but that also left the defense short-handed. On the counter-attack, you want Akanji to be in a defensive position.
Guardiola’s philosophy will always be to push forward, and while this approach can win games, it may leave them vulnerable at the back.
Spurs know they can cause trouble if they attack City’s backline. Their first goal came from a corner kick from Manchester City, who quickly counterattacked from the back within 13 seconds and ended up with Son Heung-min scoring.
The second goal came from a midfield error, with Lo Celso using teammates running around him as bait to equalize. The third goal came when Walker failed to stop Johnson’s cross and Kulusevski beat Ake.
After finding the perfect balance between defense and attack last season, City now look even more vulnerable. Tomorrow’s game against Aston Villa will be a huge test, the latter has won 13 consecutive games at home in the Premier League.
Emery will see the struggles City have suffered on the counter-attack in their last four games and will want to see his players attack opponents with confidence.
Guardiola will be looking to restore the balance that has led to previous success, and a fully fit Stones will complete the squad.