Manchester City vs Wolves

Manchester City vs Wolves Preview: Tricky Match-up for Guardiola’s Team

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have one obvious thing in common: both have recently beaten Liverpool 2-1. Granted, the Wolves defeated a diluted version of the Reds in their FA Cup encounter last Monday, but both Wolverhampton and City can certainly take away a lot of positives from succeeding against the current Premier League leaders.

For Manchester City, every match is a do-or-die situation right now. After a horrendous December in which they lost three matches within 18 days, the much-needed victory over Liverpool brought back some life to their hopes of defending the Premier League title. Still, City are trailing by four points and another loss would probably crush their hopes once and for all.

Wolves are not only one of the best teams behind the Premier League’s big six, but one of the trickiest opponents for City. When they met in August, Wolves drew with the powerhouse from Manchester. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s side could repeat exactly that on Monday. Read More

Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool

Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool: View From The Press Box

As his side became the first to defeat Liverpool in the league this season, Pep Guardiola was asked why he changes his tactics when he plays them. It was a bold question, and one which was thrown straight back by the City manager.

“What did I change today? From the way we normally play? At Anfield I would agree with you, here no way”

“More direct?” came the reply, and Guardiola explained why this may have appeared to be the case.

“Yeah they stay high, we spoke with [Raheem] Sterling and Leroy [Sane] to make runs in behind.”

“Today I have the feeling we tried to do what we have done in sixteen months, that is my feeling but maybe I’m wrong.”

He had played a different system in the draw at Anfield earlier in the season, using Bernardo Silva as a holding player in a 4-2-3-1 but here he took a risk, and commented that if Fernandinho did not win his duels his defence would be isolated against some of the best attacking players in the world. Read More

Southampton vs Manchester City

Southampton vs Manchester City Preview – A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of teams. It was the worst of teams. At least as far as the Premier League table was concerned.

It was Matchweek 16. Southampton had just lost 1-0 to Cardiff City and found themselves in 19th place – level on points with Fulham who were sat just below them.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City had fallen to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, having been unbeaten in the league before that. Liverpool had managed to sneak ahead but, as everyone was saying, every team has to lose at some point and Chelsea seemed as likely a team as any to inflict first blood on Pep Guardiola’s team. City were still the overwhelming favourites to take home the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

Since then, the tables have turned: recently-appointed Ralph Hasenhüttl has reversed Southampton’s fortunes, seeing them victorious against Arsenal and Huddersfield in his first four games in charge. Read More

Manchester City vs Everton

Manchester City vs Everton Preview: The next stumbling block?

In a title right as close as the one between Manchester City and Liverpool, every mistake counts and could end up being one too many. City came up short on Saturday when Pep Guardiola’s side were defeated by Chelsea. The former Premier League leaders now have to get back on track, though their opponents on Saturday are anything but pushovers. Manchester City vs Everton is not easy to forecast.

City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was one of those matches which did not necessarily expose any weaknesses the team has. Guardiola’s players were dominating for most of the first half against a surprisingly passive Chelsea side and were close to scoring the first goal, although those chances came from successful counter-pressing attacks or quick counter-attacks out of City’s half, not from long spells of ball possession.

City missed the chance to convert one of their opportunities, but there was no indication the Blues could come up with an idea to find the back of the net. Yet they did and put City in a position from which they did not recover. Read More

Lyon vs Manchester City

Lyon vs Manchester City Preview: Lyon To Themselves

The first game of City’s Champions League campaign happened to be their worst result of the season so far. A 1-2 reverse to Olympique Lyonnais has since been followed by several decisive European victories against Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk, but as City’s only defeat this season the memory still lingers.

Did Lyon’s win mean they have some sort of secret sauce to beat City? Not particularly. This was more City being out of sorts in their initial Champions League encounter

Lyon’s defensive shape was pretty high, though they were decidedly not pressing City’s center-backs, waiting until the ball moved to Fernandinho to apply pressure. This is generally the right approach as City can eviscerate a high press and conceding too much space is often a death sentence.

City’s Usage Rates from the game appear to show Lyon’s approach worked, with Fernandinho’s Usage substantially increased from his season’s average as he struggled with passing and lost the ball three times. That said, most of the time City failed in the buildup it was mostly their own making, not an exceptional Lyon effort. Read More

West Ham vs Manchester City

West Ham vs Manchester City Preview: What hope the Hammers?

Previewing Manchester City games is like reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time: you know how it ends even if you don’t know how it will quite get there.

Pep Guardiola’s team are favourites to take home the Premier League trophy again this season. If you doubt this fact, then maybe the data will convince you. Take, for example, expected goal (xG) values from the 12 games so far this season. Of the top six teams, Manchester City are the only side who have consistently produced a greater xG for than their opponents have produced against them.

West Ham vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

If this isn’t impressive enough as it is, City’s average xG For – hovering, as it is, just below the 3 xG per 90 line – has only been bettered by Manchester United in one of their games so far (against Bournemouth away). Guardiola, then, is producing an average xG For better than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have managed in 11 of their 12 games. Read More

Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

View From The Press Box: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

Paul Pogba might be glad he got to watch this one from the stands. Some of Manchester City’s play mesmerised spectators and opposition alike, and with the injured Pogba falling into both of these categories he may not have known what to make of it.

The sky blue half of Manchester went home happy, having seen their manager, Pep Guardiola, outsmart the opposition, and their players win a Manchester derby with relative ease.

They weaved in and out, buzzing around the red obstacles using their quicker feet, sharper minds, and crisper passing to bamboozle their opponents.

The troubles United would have in this game were laid bare in the opening few minutes. David Silva and Bernardo Silva were finding acres of space, leaving the opposition unsure as to who should track them.

Manchester City regularly play with these dual attacking midfielders in a midfield three, but today they roamed back and forth, and ventured out wide, leaving opposing full-backs, defensive midfielders, and wingers unsure as to who should be keeping an eye on them. Read More

Manchester City vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview: Key men to the left?

Go back seven months to the last Manchester derby and Manchester United ruined Manchester City’s coronation. Pep Guardiola’s side were 2-0 up at half-time, set to be crowned champions in front of their neighbours. What followed was irrelevant in one respect – they clinched the Premier League title the following weekend – but not in others. If it spared United the ignominy of seeing City celebrate and got Jose Mourinho a rare win over Guardiola, it also showed Paul Pogba’s catalytic impact.

The Frenchman scored twice in United’s comeback that day. If his performances this season have attracted decidedly mixed reviews, the numbers offer another picture. Pogba ranks second in Twelve’s Premier League leader board for the season, behind only Leicester’s Harry Maguire.

Examine the different coloured bars and it shows how his contribution stretches across the pitch, underlying his abilities as a box-to-box midfielder. It suggests he is the best all-round player in the division (at least while City’s Kevin de Bruyne is injured). If he does not have as many attacking points as City’s David Silva, he has delivered more in defence and off the ball. Read More

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City: A Cold Tuesday Night in Ukraine

Is there anything to win when you put your billion-Pound star ensemble on an airplane and travel across Europe to play in the cold of the Slobidshchyna? At least three points in the Champions League group stage. That is the motivation for Pep Guardiola, knowing that Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City might not turn out to be pretty. But that is not what City is all about right now.

Some football philosophers may suggest that the best teams sometimes look average and win nevertheless. That is what Manchester City have done in the past few weeks. Usually, head coach Guardiola comes up with a variety of tactical ideas; some outlandish, most brilliant.

But the Catalan also knows how valuable his players are and how many of them can make match-altering moves. It is the beauty of the current City squad that the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané battle for two spots in the starting XI, that Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus often battle for one berth, with Guardiola knowing that each of them can rip through defences and score the one decisive goal. Read More