It would be stretching credulity to claim Manchester City are in some sort of crisis after three Premier League games without a win but there are darker clouds than usual over the Etihad.
Their longest winless streak in the league since 2017 does more to underline the champions’ incredible consistency over that period than point to imminent structural collapse.
But from third place in the table and sliding, Wednesday’s visit to Aston Villa looms larger than it might have done.
It is not as if City are playing like drains, it is just some of their ruthlessness has deserted them. After the 3-3 home draw against Spurs, Bernardo Silva is demanding the sloppiness that has crept in at both ends is eliminated.
“We were much better than them in my opinion – we created so many chances and were very good in the pressing – but in the end if you don’t score your goals, it will cost you games and cost you points. That’s what has been happening in the last games,” said Silva.
“Individually, we need to look at ourselves and do better – score our chances because we had so many – and also defend in the little details and in the last minutes.
“If we want to win games, we cannot concede three or four goals every game – sometimes we will score five or six but most of the time we will not be able to – so we need to defend well as a team too.”
Eight goals conceded in their last three league games is unusual for City – as unusual as seeing Erling Haaland miss an open goal in the first half against Spurs.
Tottenham striker Dejan Kulusevski, who grabbed the late equaliser at the Etihad on Sunday, believes that while City remain high-quality opponents, there are cracks there to exploit.
“I don’t think they have dropped. They have very good players,” said Kulusevski. “They’re missing one of the best in (Kevin) De Bruyne but they are very good as we saw in the first half. But you can hurt them. If you’re good, you can hurt anybody.”
What would have been a challenging midweek assignment regardless at Villa has been rendered more tricky still for City by the suspensions of Rodri and Jack Grealish.
Villa – just a point behind in fourth – will certainly fancy a crack at the treble winners in their current incarnation.
“It’s going to be a tough one but we believe in our qualities and we need to stay focused on ourselves,” said City defender Josko Gvardiol. “We keep going. We need to stick together and do what we do best.”
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