Chelsea vs Manchester City premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester City Preview: Stop Jorginho, stop Chelsea?

“English football has an exceptional holding midfielder,” said Pep Guardiola in August. If he had got his way, that outstanding anchorman would be a Manchester City player. Instead a player Guardiola was confident of signing will face them. Jorginho was reunited instead with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. Rather than building a side around the Italy international, the Catalan will instead attempt to stop him constructing attacks in Chelsea vs Manchester City on Saturday.

Guardiola’s argument that Jorginho is outstanding is indisputable in one respect: the former Napoli man stands out in the statistics, topping the charts for touches and passes this season. He broke the Premier League record for most passes attempted against West Ham, attempting 180 in a performance that earned him 3,086 points on Twelve’s system. Look at Twelve’s diagram of his display that day (and untick ‘only important actions’ to see everything he did) and it indicates how pivotal he was. Read More

Watford vs Manchester City Preview

Watford vs Manchester City Preview: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation

As City travel to Watford on Tuesday, it’s getting busy in the Premier League. A mid-week fixture is the perfect time to ponder the potential limits of two squads who have been successful relative to their goals so far, but who may have some difficulties with fixture congestion.

Despite a loss to Leicester at the weekend, Watford have to be pretty happy with their performances so far this season. Per Twelve’s xG timeline, through 13 games they’ve had less xG in a game than their opponents just five times this season, and that was to Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United, Fulham (shockingly), and Bournemouth (courtesy of an early red card to Christian Kabasele).

Watford FC stats

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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

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: Did United learn their lesson?

Jose Mourinho registered yet another loss against Pep Guardiola and it seems their eternal battle came to an end. It’s been a long time since we had the opportunity to live up to the hype of the Manchester derby. The clash between the two Manchester sides at the Etihad was rather one-sided and saw the home side go 12 points clear of their neighbors after just 12 games of the 2018/19 Premier League season.

The brightest spark in Mourinho’s side was once again Anthony Martial. The young French starlet made it five straight Premier League games with a goal from the penalty spot after Ederson had brought down Romelu Lukaku.

But that was all from United at the Etihad. Their only shot on target was the penalty, and Ilkay Gundogan wrapped up the points for City after an amazing 44 passes between City players prior to the third goal five minutes from time. 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

Premier League

The Premier League is still very competitive (with one big exception)

Last week the Guardian ran an article entitled “Premier League the most competitive in the world? You must be joking” describing what they considered as the poor state of excitement in the World’s most popular league.

The article started with a statistic that caught my attention: “The top five clubs have played the bottom five 19 times this season and won every one.” Last weekend’s matches might be said to have reinforced that picture, with Liverpool beating Fulham 2-0 and Tottenham winning 1-0 away against Crystal Palace.

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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

Manchester City vs Southampton

Manchester City vs Southampton Preview: Saints Will Need a Miracle

After a scare-free Halloween week, City’s next opponent in the crowded fixture list is Southampton. Though the Saints put in an excellent performance against the Blues last year, City are much improved this season against teams in the lower areas of the table. Given the easy early schedule, I’m not quite ready to declare this team superior than last year’s edition despite the impressive start.

Still, one thing that can’t be denied is that they’ve played much better against teams outside last year’s top six. City last season averaged 13 shots and five shots on target more than such opponents, a pretty high baseline. This season, they’re averaging an incredible 19 and eight in those categories. Read More