5 things Man City must do to close the gap on Liverpool
Manchester City have given their Premier League crown to Liverpool after becoming champions in the past two seasons.
Liverpool took the title with a record seven games, 23 points from a distant second-placed city.
Here, the PA news agency is investigating what City needs to do to close the gap.
Find a top-notch central defender
City missed Aymeric Laporte due to injury (Martin Rickett / PA)
The city must certainly regret the decision not to meet Southampton's £ 75m price for Virgil Van Dijk in 2018, as the Dutch have immeasurably improved Liverpool at their expense. They also gave up last summer when Leicester quoted £ 80m for Harry Maguire, and that also seems to be a mistake. Granted, they were unlucky to lose Aymeric Laporte from a serious injury, but John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are not reliable alternatives, and Fernandinho, a more than adequate short-term hiatus, is ultimately that.
Replace Vincent Kompany from the field
The city has not replaced Vincent Kompany on or next to the field (Gareth Fuller / PA)
The city's central defender's problems have come into focus since Vincent Kompany's departure, and there is another area where they miss their inspiring former captain - the locker room. Kompany was an excellent leader and a good defender, and his influence was immense. Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have set a good example, but the order Kompany brought has not been replaced.
Cut out the mistakes
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After two years of exciting football, City has fallen below its own high standards this season. Perhaps it was inevitable - manager Pep Guardiola is so intense and demanding - that at some point there was a levy. This could happen to Liverpool now, which has had two outstanding years, but one reason the Reds are so good is because they have reached City's high bar. It is a difficult challenge to return to this level. However, you could help close the gap by simply eliminating the costly single mistakes that have crept into your game. I think of Ederson's howler in the Manchester derby before the lockdown and Benjamin Mendy's mistake at Chelsea in the final game on Thursday.
Update with full back
Benjamin Mendy has been struggling with injuries since joining City (Nick Potts / PA).
The threats City poses to the full-back don't match Liverpool's, for which Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson stand out. Kyle Walker may have had a sensible campaign, but Mendy has not lived up to expectations after two seasons due to injury. Of the other options, Joao Cancelo has not adapted to Guardiola's or the English game's requirements, as his £ 60m commitment and left-back are not Oleksandr Zinchenko's natural position. It may be time to update.
Make the most of a European ban
The city is facing a ban on European competition (Martin Rickett / PA)
Exclusion from the Champions League could have a major impact on City's short to medium term future, particularly in terms of reputation and recruitment ability. A final decision on whether their two-year suspension will be maintained is expected by the Sports Arbitration Panel in the coming weeks. The club would struggle to get a positive result if it were confirmed, but it would at least alleviate the congestion of the games and possibly enable the kind of run for the title that Leicester and Chelsea have enjoyed in recent years.
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