Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

CITY JUST TOO FREE AND EASY ; Pellegrini Has to Find Solution to Blues'set-Piece Problems - and Quickly

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

CITY JUST TOO FREE AND EASY ; Pellegrini Has to Find Solution to Blues'set-Piece Problems - and Quickly

Article excerpt

CITY are a big, powerful team fi but pintsized when it comes to set-pieces.

Indeed, only once this season have the Blues scored an indirect goal from a free-kick - Martin Demichelis' late header that earned them a point at Arsenal in September.

The only other time City have taken advantage of a set-piece was YayaY Toure's T curling free-kick in the home defeat by CSKA Moscow.

By contrast, goals have been flooding in at the other end - four of City's last eight league goals conceded have come from corners or free-kicks.

And Manuel Pellegrini has hinted the Blues will be working hard at both defending and attacking set-pieces during their week's training camp in Abu Dhabi.

The jaunt to the Middle East was meant to be a warm weather camp but on Monday they were met with thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain!

They have gone there with plenty to ponder, as Chelsea have opened up a five-point gap at the top - and half of their last eight league goals have come from set-pieces.

Brown Ideye (West Brom), Jack Rodwell (Sunderland), Steven Naismith (Everton) and then Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) have all cashed in on City's vulnerability.

Set-piece goals have also cost them in the Champions League, with goals for Jerome Boateng and Xabi Alonso for Bayern Munich, and Seydou Doumbia's unmarked header for CSKA Moscow.

It has Demichelis mystified, but he vowed the team will iron out the creases.

He said: "We know we have been conceding from penalties and set- pieces lately, but it is the thing we work on most on the training ground.

"We have to check out the mistakes once again and, hopefully, it won't happen again."

Pellegrini admits he is concerned his team has lost the knack of scoring from corners and freekicks, and that it is increasingly vulnerable to them at the other end.

"I am concerned about both set-pieces," said the City boss. "Last year we scored many goals from so many free-kicks and corners. Now we are not scoring goals.

"Also I am concerned about defending setpieces because the last five goals we have conceded - the two against Arsenal, one against Everton and two against Sunderland - were two penalties, two free- kicks and a corner, and that is important. …

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