noscript image
GooglePlay Logo AppStore Logo

Monaco's 53 goals will worry City - but Pep hopes for special February

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 712

Pin Pep Guardiola's side have struggled of late. Goal
Pep Guardiola's side have struggled of late. Goal

Monaco's 53 goals will worry City - but Pep hopes for special February

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 712

The Ligue 1 side have scored 53 league goals so far this season and will worry City's porous defence, but the Catalan has always said February will be key.

So, Manchester City will face Monaco in the Champions League last-16. What does it mean? Who knows.

These particular draws are always curious given how much can change in the next two months or so. The mood around a club can change completely.

Right now, that's exactly what City will be banking on. Monaco are probably the most favourable opponents City could have hoped to face but, if this tie were to be played before the end of 2016 few would be overly confident of progressing - especially given the French side have scored a frankly staggering 53 league goals already.

Given City's porous defence that stat alone will cause alarm bells, but there is more than enough time to put things right.

Pep Guardiola has always been cautious to put a timeline on his time in charge but he has specifically mentioned February as some sort of landmark on more than one occasion since he took over this summer.

The Catalan rightly insists he needs time to get his players doing what he wants and he has usually mentioned February as an example of when we will start to see the kind of football he is striving for.

He may, however, have privately revised that timeline given City's recent struggles, and it is those results and performances which make this Champions League draw particularly interestingly timed.

The mostly shambolic performance at Leicester City at the weekend has brought about unfavourable comparisons between Guardiola's side and that which so laboured in the final knockings of Manuel Pellegrini's reign.

Given Guardiola's pedigree, the money spent in the summer, and the seemingly instant success at the start of the season, things were not supposed to pan out like this. 

By February this bad patch may be a distant memory. If not, City could head to the south of France under pressure not to deliver what would be a significant regression on last season's semi-final appearance.

Time may not look back favourably upon this appraisal of City, should they stir themselves from this dip in form that is so unusual of a Guardiola team.

City's run of 1-1 home draws (which they deserved to win) and the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea (which was unlucky to say the least) have been cast in an especially bad light by the loss at Leicester. The Blues can alter the narrative by beating Watford and Arsenal in the next week, in the process writing off Saturday's defeat as an aberration.

Things could look much better this time next week, let alone in February.

But it is the nature of these draws and their timing that means City and their fans will look at Monaco in a decidedly more pessimistic frame of mind. This is Guardiola's worst ever start to a season and there are question marks around a number of the club's players - mostly the defenders and goalkeeper - leading up to the January transfer window.

The club's senior officials are playing down the chances of any signings so it seems everything will depend on how Guardiola can get his more maligned players to form a cohesive unit that will stop leaking goals. 

That process must have already started if City want to be involved in the title race come the turn of the year, never mind start to think about success in the Champions League, where one away goal can make a huge difference - as Guardiola himself has discovered in some high-profile semi-finals.

Given Monaco's vibrant, youthful, attack-minded squad, there is plenty to concern City, even if they will be pleased to avoid Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, who have all given Guardiola headaches in recent seasons.

As for Monaco themselves, much can change for them. Just as City will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes, they will be desperate not to slip out of form at exactly the wrong moment. They are only second in Ligue 1, despite all their goals, it must be pointed out, and it may be a challenge for their young side to maintain their intensity for the next couple of months. 

Right now, though, City will rightly be focused on themselves.

It had always seemed an exciting prospect whenever Guardiola said people will start to see his vision for the club come February. Given current circumstances, however, there will be concerns that things could go either way. There is a lot to work on before anybody starts thinking about Monaco.



More news author

Follow BeSoccer on Facebook