Eye On EPL

Don't dismiss City's chances, despite Klopp's masterclass

Naysayers have jumped from Jose Mourinho to Manuel Pellegrini in their apparent bid to get a manager dismissed from a top English Premier League club.

Yes, Manchester City's 1-4 thumping by Liverpool on Saturday was embarrassing - their heaviest at home since their move to the Etihad Stadium in August 2003.

But the Chilean deserves more time - and respect - because his team did not become bad overnight.

Having been humiliated at their home ground, you can be sure that they will bounce back in the upcoming fixtures.

After the loss to Spurs, for instance, City won seven and drew one of their following eight games.

And if they do not show signs of resurgence, it is guaranteed that the Abu Dhabi owners will be active in the January transfer market.

There is talk that speed kills the Sky Blues' ageing backline, as also witnessed during September's 4-1 defeat at Tottenham.

But the team that won the league two years ago also lacked pace at the back - though they were tighter and tackled harder.

City remain the title favourites simply because of the array of world-class talent in their squad.

Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure would get into most first teams in Europe. They have amazing skillsets and, just as importantly, big egos.

Having been humiliated at their home ground, you can be sure that they will bounce back.

After the loss to Spurs, for instance, City won seven and drew one of their following eight games.

And if they do not show signs of resurgence, it is guaranteed that the Abu Dhabi owners will be active in the January transfer market.

Their ongoing defensive frailities boil down to captain Vincent Kompany's injury battles.

The centre-back pairing of Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis cannot cope with pacey forwards and balls played over the top.

It was a tactical masterclass from Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp to not start burly Belgian Christian Benteke.

Instead of a targetman being supplied by crosses from the flanks, the roving frontline of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino terrorised their opponents with constant off-the-ball movement and sleek one-touch exchanges.

It could be the blueprint for defeating City this season, but it is far easier said than done.

City's midfield protectors Fernando and Fernandinho have joined Yaya Toure in not being consistent of late.

Their duties are all the more crucial as full-backs Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov are better going forward and seldom track back fast enough to cut off counter-attacks.

Pellegrini needs to shake things up a little bit, perhaps by fielding youngsters from the club's new state-of-the-art academy.

Nothing hurts a veteran - of which there are a fair few in the City dressing room - more than being dropped in favour of a younger talent.

He will be determined to not just prove his manager wrong, but show the world there is a trick or two left in those well-travelled boots.

City have "winnable" games against Southampton, Stoke and Swansea before visiting Arsenal on Dec 22.

It will be a pivotal clash against the Gunners, and the perfect opportunity to show that the losses to Spurs and Liverpool were actually isloated defeats.

With Chelsea all but out of the title race, City know their main threats are the Gunners and neighbours Manchester United.

Those two teams are far from perfect either, hit by injuries, inconsistency and insipid finishing.

This has been a strange season. The league is more open than ever, but the quality of teams at the top seem to have taken a hit.

For that reason, don't count out City - or Pellegrini - after one or two bad nights.

Come May, that "slow" team everyone mocks now will likely have blown past their opponents for a third league triumph in five seasons.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Don't dismiss City's chances, despite Klopp's masterclass'. Print Edition | Subscribe