Manch­ester City v Manch­ester Unite

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League -

How City can win De­cide on cre­ativ­ity or out-and-out pace

Manch­ester City might line up as a 4-3-3 but the shape will change de­pend­ing on the phase of play. While Kyle Walker and Ben­jamin Mendy of­ten over­lap in at­tack, against some sides City’s back four moves to a three, with Walker be­com­ing a right-sided cen­tre-back.

This means Mendy (right) op­er­ates as a winger on one side and the right-sided for­ward stretches play on the op­po­site flank and – cru­cially – al­lows for two cen­tral strik­ers. Gabriel Je­sus can start wide left in place of Leroy Sane and tuck in­side to a cen­tral for­ward’s po­si­tion along­side Ser­gio Aguero once City are in the op­po­si­tion half. Raheem Ster­ling has been in fine form and of­fers a mas­sive coun­ter­at­tack­ing threat, but if United sit deep and frus­trate, there will be no room be­hind the de­fend­ers for Ster­ling to at­tack. There­fore, it makes sense to have some­one bet­ter at keep­ing the ball and cre­at­ing in tight spa­ces like Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez did this against Spurs at Wem­b­ley re­cently and was key to City dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion and de­fend­ing by keep­ing the ball away from their op­po­nents. An­other thing to con­sider is that United’s de­fence do not deal well with fast coun­ter­at­tacks. Guardi­ola will re­alise that Sane’s di­rect run­ning op­po­site Ster­ling could un­set­tle and de­stroy a frag­ile back four early in the game.

How United can win Three-man mid­field needs to click

Jose Mour­inho played a mid­field three of Paul Pogba, Ne­manja Matic and An­der Her­rera against Ju­ven­tus in a 4-3-3/4-5-1. Her­rera snapped and chased at the man on the ball, Matic (be­low) sat a lit­tle deeper and kept things sim­ple, while Pogba of­fered mo­ments of lovely skill and gave the ball away a lot. Aside from the mis­takes, it was bal­anced – and Juve did not dom­i­nate like they did at Old Traf­ford.

Guardi­ola usu­ally only has Fer­nand­inho as the pivot be­hind two more ad­ven­tur­ous mid­field­ers, but against United there is ev­ery chance that Ilkay Gun­do­gan starts along­side one of the two Sil­vas in or­der to pro­vide a slightly more de­fen­sive mind­set. City have in­cred­i­ble op­tions and who­ever starts will al­ter the way the team shapes up.

Pogba is key to United and if City ap­ply pres­sure on him and catch the mid­fielder in pos­ses­sion – some­thing which Ju­ven­tus did of­ten in both matches – they can win turnovers in dan­ger­ous po­si­tions with United’s de­fence vul­ner­a­ble.

If City press them high – and they will – Matic, Pogba and Her­rera must move into space to help link passes. Ash­ley Young was fu­ri­ous with team-mates against Bournemouth last week­end for fail­ing to of­fer him a pass, re­sult­ing in hoofed chips down the chan­nel to no­body in par­tic­u­lar.

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