LOSING the title to Liverpool by 18 points after scoring 102 goals must have hurt Pep Guardiola.
So it is no surprise we are seeing a totally different Manchester City this season.
Manchester City are tighter at the back this season after leaking goals last yearCredit: Rex Features
No matter which stars are missing against Chelsea, they will adopt a pragmatic approach.
After getting caught out on the break too often last term, Guardiola has worked on City’s defensive shape.
And with seven clean sheets, including five from their last six Prem games, it is clearly working.
In their last game at home to Newcastle they played three at the back with Stones, Dias and Ake with Rodri sitting at the base of a diamond midfield.
Pep has also deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders just ahead of the two centre backs.
In others the two centre halves have been accompanied by one full back and a defensive midfielder.
But one thing remains the same no matter what system is used – four players are always behind the ball at any given moment.
After scoring 39 goals this time last season, they have only netted 21 so far this campaign.
Pep Guardiola has worked on City’s defensive shape this seasonCredit: PA:Press Association
With Sergio Aguero’s injury woes and losing David Silva in the summer it is no surprise they have not been as free flowing as previous seasons.
But with this new style, they can now count on just scoring that one important goal.
They have already ground out 1-0 wins over Southampton, Arsenal, Sheffield United.
And this is a side we have not seen of City under Guardiola.
With this new philosophy they are beginning to climb the league and you would not bet against them being there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
But this pragmatism could stop teams hitting City on the break in the Champions League and help them finally land their holy grail.