Tinkering Guardiola needs to find winning formula again

LONDON • Manchester City's season has hit a bump at a bad time, and a victory at home over Hull City today is much needed to help bolster their bid to play Champions League football next season.

City's 2-1 defeat by leaders Chelsea on Wednesday means they have gone more than a month without a Premier League victory. Successive league draws with Stoke, Liverpool and Arsenal, followed by the loss at Stamford Bridge, have seen Pep Guardiola's team slip to fourth in the standings.

But one significant bonus for the City manager was the return to action of Vincent Kompany. The captain had a series of injury setbacks and did not play for more than two months before making his comeback on Wednesday.

Kompany worked hard to convince Guardiola that he is fit, and believes his return should serve as a message to the club's young players.

"It wasn't the easiest game to get back into but what I would say in terms of advice to younger players is: I could have stood back and moaned and complained that I wasn't playing but I never did," said the Belgium centre-back, who completed 90 minutes.

"I worked very hard for that one opportunity... I was helpful to the team. That's what I wanted to do."

Midfielder Fabian Delph was another surprise starter for City, having been in and out of the team this season, suggesting that Guardiola is looking at different options as he seeks a strong finish.

Perhaps his most surprising move has been the experimenting with winger Jesus Navas as a right back. However, that has shown little sign of working, and it seems Guardiola will change his tactics against Hull.

Hull climbed out of the bottom three for the first time since October with a 4-2 midweek victory over fellow strugglers Middlesbrough.

They are unbeaten at home since Marco Silva took over as manager in January. But they have been poor on their travels, with their only away win in the league at Swansea in August.

"We need to start translating our home form to when we go away because in front of our own fans we are playing well and with a lot of confidence," said Silva.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANCHESTER CITY V HULL

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'Tinkering Guardiola needs to find winning formula again'. Print Edition | Subscribe