Man City have problems in attack as well as defence - Phil Neville

Match of the Day 2 analysis

It is too easy to score goals against Manchester City, but that is not Pep Guardiola's only problem at the moment.

As we saw in Sunday's 4-0 defeat by Everton, who scored with every shot they had on target, teams do not need to create many chances to get past City.

That is a criticism of their back four and their goalkeeper, but another reason they have fallen off the pace in the title race is their lack of threat going forward.

It was not difficult for Everton to defend against them at Goodison Park. Yes, City had a penalty shout and a couple of half-chances in the first half but at the moment, if you get back into shape against them and close off the gaps, then it is also easy to keep them out.

Manchester City had 71% of possession against Everton and the red areas of their heatmap (right) show how much of the ball they saw outside the Toffees box
Manchester City had 71% of possession against Everton and the red areas of their possession heatmap (right) show how much of the ball they had just outside the Toffees box, without creating a clear-cut chance. Guardiola's side had 13 efforts at goal and five shots on target while Everton mustered a total of six shots at goal and scored with four of them, despite having far less of the ball (left)

City's tempo when they come forward is not always quick enough. They are pretty predictable in attack and, in the Premier League, they are finding it hard to score goals against well-organised defences.

That means more pressure is being heaped on their own back four. Against Everton, they could not cope.

Stones not to blame for City's struggles

Man City forward Raheem Sterling and defender John Stones
Stones, 22, was back at Goodison Park for the first time since his £50m move from Everton to City in the summer

It would be very easy to come out after watching City lose 4-0 and say they were wide open at the back, and John Stones had a nightmare on his return to his old club.

But Stones was probably the best player in City's back four - it is the others who let him down, massively.

If you look at the four goals that City conceded against Everton, Nicolas Otamendi and Gael Clichy both make errors that lead to three of them. Stones was not at fault for any of them.

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Man City 'not strong enough in the box'

Everton scored their first, second and fourth goals because either Otamendi or Clichy got their basic defensive positioning and decision making wrong.

That is not down to Guardiola's system or the way he sets his team up, it comes down to the mentality of his players, and them being alert and aware of danger - I am talking about things like their reaction time, staying in line with the rest of their back-four and staying with runners from the opposition team.

For example, with Everton's fourth goal, Stones will get criticised because his clearance was charged down and led to Ademola Lookman scoring.

Ademola Lookman scores Everton's fourth goal
Otamendi could not recover in time to stop Lookman scoring Everton's fourth goal

But Otamendi was on his heels and not even thinking about defending when Stones went over to the left to clear. Yes, the ball dropped nicely for Lookman but Otamendi should have been ready for that.

The fact he wasn't is not down to Stones, but he seems to be getting the blame.

It seems to happen a lot. Stones has got unbelievable ability but he seems to have been carrying the can all season whenever City have conceded goals, no matter what their other defenders do.

That is partly because he is a £50m signing and an England international, and partly because of the way he tries to play as a skilful centre-half - which is the way Guardiola wants him to play.

Goals are going in easily against Bravo

Claudio Bravo could not stop Kevin Mirallas putting Everton 2-0 ahead
Claudio Bravo could not stop Kevin Mirallas putting Everton 2-0 ahead with an angled shot...

Stones aside, it seems to me there are fundamental problems with City's defence.

Claudio Bravo is one of them - it looks like people are playing City and thinking if they hit the target, they will score.

To win the league title, you need a goalkeeper who will make important saves. Look at all the champions over the last 10 or 20 years and you will find keepers who are worth around nine to 12 points a season to them with the stops they make.

That is not the case with Bravo at City. I saw him play in Spain when I was with Valencia last season and he is a fantastic keeper but the goals are going in very easily against him at the moment.

It is not even as if they are all going into the corners of the net - Bravo is being beaten in the central areas of his goal too.

Tom Davies puts Everton 3-0 up
... or stop Tom Davies putting Everton 3-0 ahead with a dinked finish

He is definitely struggling in English football, with the speed, the intensity and the physicality of our game, and teams are 100% targeting him.

His confidence has taken a hit, which is inevitable, and it obviously does not help when you concede with the first shot you face in a game, which is what happened at Everton.

As a defender, when your keeper is letting in a lot of the shots you face - in Bravo's case, 14 of the last 22 shots on target over City's last eight games - then you lose a bit of confidence in him too.

How does Bravo's shot-save ratio compare to goalkeepers at the other top-six clubs?
Keeper (club)GamesSavesSaves/game% of shots on target saved
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)19371.974%
Petr Cech (Arsenal)21572.771.8%
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)21371.871.2%
David de Gea (Man Utd)21462.269.7%
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)1122264.7%
Claudio Bravo (Man City)18311.757.4%

The whole back-four are aware that, if you make a mistake, it will end up in a goal. You have no margin for error, and it makes people nervous.

It is the complete opposite to the confidence you feel when you have got a reliable keeper behind you, who you know can make saves that will get you out of trouble.

What next? City will not just roll over

Top of the Premier League

This City team looks like it is a work in progress for Pep, because City are nowhere near where he wants them to be.

I don't think they can win the Premier League this season, but they will still be there or thereabouts in the top four. They are not just going to roll over.

City got badly beaten by Leicester in December and responded with an important win over Arsenal in their next game.

They will have to show a similar spirit, and put in an improved display, when they play Tottenham next weekend.

It is another massive game for them, but they are capable of coming back this time too.

Phil Neville was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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