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

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

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

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

View From The Press Box: City Used Napoli’s Sky-Blueprint To Tame Reds

Liverpool versus Manchester City was one of the most entertaining battles witnessed last season, both in terms of tactics and as a spectacle.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were the team which ended the eventual Premier League champions’ unbeaten run in January, and also knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time to apply his meticulous research and preparation methods to this particular opposition, and even though Liverpool aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, he was able to make noticeable progress at Anfield, where Manchester City haven’t won since 2003.

When the lineups were released the unexpected change came in the Liverpool side. Dejan Lovren replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold meaning Joe Gomez would be shifted across to right back.

This suggested that Klopp might be going with a shape similar to the one they faced at Napoli in midweek, when Carlo Ancelotti used Nikola Maksimović as the right centre-back of a three when attacking and as a right-back in a four when defending. Read More

Guardiola and Klopp

The contrasting use of full-backs by Guardiola and Klopp

Whenever we hear the word full-back in football, there seems to be a varied concept in people’s minds circling around. Back in the day, the job of a full-back was to stay close to their centre-backs and defend, occasionally making runs forward. However, the modern-day usage of a full-back is something different, not really alien to the previous version, but a bit more attacking and adventurous.

A right-back or left-back now acts as a winger in possession moving forward at every opportunity. They should have the awareness of making recovery runs or staying in good positions while defending. As a result, many managers in the past decade have their front-line very narrow, because they depend on the full-backs to provide the width on both sides of the field.

There are two such managers in the Premier League who make use of these players in a contrasting way: Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The former’s 4-3-3 system is quite different to the 4-3-3 of the latter, so let’s take a closer look at how Guardiola and Klopp employ their full-backs. Read More

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Preview: Keep the Party Going

It must be one of the scenarios coaches often dream of, when you can pick up players from your bench and know that they are going to deliver. Pep Guardiola is in exactly that position right now. A few days ago, Leroy Sané, one of Manchester City’s standout players of last season, was considered to be in a crisis.

The 22-year-old did not make the cut for Joachim Löw’s German national team at the World Cup, which after all was probably a blessing in disguise, and then had a rough start this season. Read More

The two faces of Manchester City

The two faces of Manchester City

Manchester City’s start to the new season has not entirely gone the way Pep Guardiola probably envisioned. After two stunning performances against Arsenal and Huddersfield Town, the defending champions drew 1-1 with Wolverhampton Wanderers last Sunday. These first three weeks showed the good and the bad side of Guardiola, and the two faces of Manchester City.

Take for instance the decisive win over Huddersfield. Guardiola had to know that Huddersfield were expecting a similar formation to what City played against Arsenal, meaning a system with one centre-forward and two wingers. Hence Guardiola mixed things up switching to a back three and a two-forward formation with Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus up front. Read More

Arsenal Manchester City Preview

Arsenal vs. Manchester City Preview: The Emery era begins

The blockbuster match up of the opening weekend of the Premier League is champions Manchester City coming to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City broke a number of records last season on their way to 100 points and now face the task of trying to top one of the best seasons of all time. Arsenal limped to their worst finish since 1994-95 and saw their legendary coach Arsene Wenger retire.

Manchester City Drop Attackers into Midfield

The backbone of Manchester City’s title team were Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva; both of whom in most systems would line up as attacking midfielders but in Pep Guardiola’s system were used as more traditional midfielders but with the freedom to attack. Having both start from deep allowed Manchester City to add another attacker to the starting XI while still having numerical superiority in midfield.

This also unlocked De Bruyne and Silva to post some of the best attacking numbers in the league even from a deeper starting position, coming up the second and seventh most highly rated by the Twelve model. Read More