Man City seeing the joy of health & quality scouting
In Pep Guardiola's second and third seasons in charge, City dominated. They amassed 198 points across the 17/18 & 18/19 campaigns, scoring 201 league goals in the process and managing to beat Liverpool to the title in 2019 even though the Merseysiders finished the season on 97 points, a total that would've won the league every season other than Guardiola's two crowns with City. However, last season City lost their first choice center back (Aymeric Laporte) midway through the season, having lost Vincent Kompany in the summer and their season was derailed, managing six fewer wins than the two title winning seasons and finishing a whopping 18 points behind champions, Liverpool.
After the disappointment of last season, City opened the cheque book and brought 23 year old center back, Ruben Dias, to the club. In doing so they found a replacement for Vincent Kompany and the perfect partner to bring out the best in John Stones, who had struggled since his big money move to Manchester in 2016. Some center backs are great no matter who they play with, some need the perfect partner that compliments them with all the skills they don't have, to become great. Some look down on City because they have the money to buy whoever they want but that only gets you so far, elite scouting is the other element required to truly succeed and City are reaping the rewards of a healthy squad & quality scouting in 2021.
City identified a weakness within in their squad and made moves to amend the problem, they have done so successful, Liverpool on the other hand have not. Over the past couple of seasons, Liverpool have won the Champions League and the Premier League, largely thanks to an elite starting 11 who all knew how to carry out the Jurgen Klopp system to perfection, during those successful seasons they suffered very few injuries and the world has been in awe of this amazing team but this season has been a little different.
So far this season, Liverpool have lost Joe Gomez & Virgil Van Dijk to season ending injuries, Joel Matip has been in and out of the physio room and they have been forced to deploy two of their midfield three, Henderson & Fabinho, at center back for a large part of the season. No team in the world would be the same after losing their first choice center back pairing but the top teams would be better equipped to deal with the problem without forcing their midfield to become as weak as their backline. Liverpool were this unbelievable team because their best players were able to stay healthy but this season has brought to light the weaknesses in this Liverpool squad and the reason why they will struggle to continue to compete on all fronts.
So far this season, Man City have gone on a 21 game win streak in all competitions, kept 16 Premier League clean sheets and sit 14 points clear at the top of the league table. City have managed this during the most constant, compacted season we have ever seen, they've been able to do this thanks to the quality of their squad and their ability to rotate. Not everyone has a limitless bank account like City but squad depth is the key to consistent success on all fronts and in order to really compete clubs must find a way to build a squad to match them.
Every Liverpool fan believes the football gods have been against them this season, the injuries are the only reason they are struggling and that they'll be healthy next season thus bouncing right back. To compete on all fronts consistently season after season, you have to have an elite squad, you can't just rely on an elite starting team. Injuries are an unfortunate part of football but they are a cover for the issues within the Liverpool squad as a whole just like they were for City last season. City made moves to eliminate the problem and if Liverpool can't do the same, next season will be a struggle regardless of the health of their players.
Big signings are needed not like the minnows signed in January to attempt to pave over the cracks!