If you were to look at the seven goals in their last two preseason matches, you wouldn’t think scoring is a concern for Manchester City. But after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Tottenham, it’s clear that finishing still remains an issue.
Many neutral observers point to City’s defense being the main issue of City’s struggles last season. Pep Guardiola, however, would tell you finishing chances was the biggest issue. In the Premier League alone, City created 482 chances but only managed to convert 16% of those for 80 goals.
On Saturday, City showcased their ability to miss clear-cut chances. Gabriel Jesus missed a tap-in from five yards away, and Sergio Agüero hit the post twice from efforts inside the penalty box. Those three misses came with a host of other half-chances, but it was enough to highlight the problem.
Far too often last season City found themselves up by a goal but unable to add to their lead, which ended up costing them points. Home matches against Middlesbrough, Tottenham, and Chelsea were all matches City should have secured three points from with ease. Instead, points were dropped at crucial times in the season and title hopes were derailed.
You wonder how much this problem will sit in the heads of City players entering the season too. Kevin De Bruyne was playing at a Player of the Year level to start last season. Then in the home match to Chelsea, De Bruyne missed a sitter from 4 yards out and subsequently went through a thick rough patch of poor form.
None of City’s recognized strikers have scored a goal in the preseason yet. Both Aguero and Jesus, as stated earlier, have had their chances to score. You have to wonder if those misses will dwell in their brains heading into the final friendly against West Ham.
The pressure shouldn’t solely be on City’s strikers for goals however. David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and new signing Bernardo Silva will be expected to add goals this season. Of the 80 goals scored by City last year, 28 were scored by midfielders and defenders. This number must increase if City are to truly challenge for the title.
The only positive from this goal-scoring problem is that City are creating the chances necessary to win trophies. City are going to create more chances this year as well, with the addition of new fullbacks. In preseason both Kyle Walker and Danilo have been terrific, and look tremendous upgrades compared to the options Guardiola had in 2016/17. New recruit Benjamin Mendy will be a revelation as well after creating 25 chances in Ligue 1 last season.
Guardiola will also be on the market for a new striker as the transfer window closes. Reports have heavily linked Alexis Sanchez to City, along with Kylian Mbappé. Either of those players would add more ruthlessness to City’s attack.
With the defense looking solid in preseason, finishing looks to be the big fix for Guardiola.
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