Pep Guardiola made significant changes for game against Bournemouth Otamendi started instead of Stones, Zinchenko, Danilo was starting pair of full-backs, Gundogan started instead of David Silva and Gabriel Jesus instead Aguero. Bournemouth played with 5-4-1, formation with 5 defenders gave Guardiola Bayern and City biggest problems they often struggled create chances from flanks. City started game actively with trying create chances from wide thanks to Sane and Sterling but struggled to find space. Gundogan as number 8 rarely played forward passes, most dangerous moments were created when City played passes from Zinchenko and Laporte to Sane behind defenders. One of this attacks resulted in opening goal, Zinchenko made pass over the top to Sane behind Bournemouth full back Francis back, Sane made shot which was saved by Begovic and Bernardo Silva after rebound scored in empty net. Also City were close to score when Zinchenko made cross which Gabriel Jesus wasn’t able to get. Zinchenko playing as inverted full back helped City in attack and controlling possession. But after goal City hardly created anything and allowed visitors large spells of possession City defenders often looked nervous and made positional errors only Bournemouth lack of quality in final third didn’t allow them to create chances. City midfielders especially Gundogan made bad passes and often lost ball without pressure. In last 10-15 minutes of first half Man City gave Howe side control and in one of their attacks after cross from Francis Callum Wilson scored header after winning duel in Otamendi. In second half first 5-10 minutes City continued to be nervous and forced to make change after Zinchenko was injured by Fernandinho elbow for Delph. Raheem Sterling individual effort changed the game, English winger dribbled past 5 defenders and his shot after deflection hit post, couple minutes later he scored from six yard box after rebound which was result of Danilo shot and Begovic save. In next 15 minutes City created numerous dangerous situations but weren’t able to use them. Bournemouth main threat was from throw-ins which created panic in City box. Bournemouth contained Gabriel Jesus all game without problems and Brazilian striker was substituted for David Silva. Third goal came after corner, Sane made cross which was handled easily by visitors but Sane got rebound passed ball to David Silva and Spaniard made quick cut back pass inside box to Sane and German made low cross which was finished by Gundogan. After that Sane could scored fourth goal after great long ball by Laporte but Begovic saved Bournemouth. City weren’t at their best gave number of players rest but still were able to win and remain top of the table ahead of two away games against Watford and Chelsea.
City again struggled against Lyon after loss in Manchester to French club. Guardiola decided to play Zinchenko as left back, Stones, Laporte as starting center backs and Sterling played as central midfielder because of injuries suffered by De Bruyne, Gundogan and Bernardo Silva. In attack played Sane, Aguero and Mahrez. In possession Zinchenko played as midfielder to help City control the ball. In first 15 minutes Lyon started to play aggressive and made waves of attack. Lyon overloaded City left flank after which Depay from low cross miss hit the ball from six yard box. City answered with couple counter attacks which resulted in Mahrez shot that was blocked and another attack that resulted in shot that was saved by Lyon goalkeeper. City struggled with Lyon intensity Fernandinho made numerous fouls and got yellow card. Man City often had possession between defenders and struggled to create chances from positional attacks. After 30 minutes Lyon made two more dangerous quick attacks. First attack was saved by Laporte defender blocked shot from six yard box by Lyon player. In last minuted of first half Lyon made quick attack that ended in shot which hit the post. City were extremely lucky to end first half 0-0, score before half-time could be easily 2-0. In second half City played significantly better and controlled better game. Lyon scored after counter-attack when Fernandinho failed to intercept with his head high ball and Cornet scored goal with shot from outside box which was slightly deflected by Zinchenko attempt to block shot. City answered with Mahrez cross which resulted in Aguero header from six yards that was saved by Lyon goalkeeper. French club played in defense more. City scored after Sterling cross from free kick and deflection Laporte scored goal with header. Man City were close to score second goal but Aguero pass to Sane and Sterling who were open to score tap-in from six yard box but pass was blocked by Lyon defender. Delph came in last 20 minuted for Sane to help control the game. Lyon scored goal by Cornet after 1 vs 1 against Ederson which happened in positional attack. City were saved by Aguero header after Mahrez cross from corner. Man City were lucky to draw against Lyon they were completely outplayed and Guardiola experiment with Sterling in midfield failed. Zinchenko showed that he can’t defend as left-back. City now need draw against Hoffenheim at home to secure first place in Group F.
Pep Guardiola made few personal changes for West Ham game. Catalan coach started Otamendi instead of John Stones, Gundogan instead of Bernardo Silva because of Portuguese injury and Delph as left back instead of Mendy after French full back got long term injury. But City played usual 4-3-3 with Delph in possession acting as central midfielder often. West Ham started game actively, pressed high and tried attack wide with making number of crosses in City box but hardly created anything. After first minutes City established control of game and first dangerous moment was created after low cross from right by David Silva was stopped and ball got back to Spaniard after which Silva shot in near corner but shot was wide. After that on 11 minute after Sterling low cross and little deflection from West Ham defender David Silva was left wide open and scored from six yard box. City continued to attack from wide positions Aguero and Silva played wide near Sterling on some occasions and Gundogan played near Sane and tried to combine with him. On 19 minute after Sane left isolated against Zabaleta German winger made low cross which was finished by Sterling from six yard box. After second goal City conceded couple of chances. First chance came after Laporte was dispossessed in penalty box and Arnautovic shot from 15 meters which was saved by Walker tackle. In couple minutes time after West Ham press Gundogan was sloppy and give ball away in 40 meters from own goal. Arnautovic received ball and gave pass for shot from 20 meters which was saved by Ederson. City were then able to regain control of game in 34 minute after successful counter press by City Fernandinho gave great ball behind defender backs for Sterling and Raheem with one touch passed to Sane in six yard box after which German winger with his dummy fooled opponent defender with goalkeeper and scored in empty goal. For rest of game after third goal City coasted, only chance West Ham had in second half was after David Silva lost ball in midfield and London club after counter attack hit post. City scored fourth goal on last seconds, Leroy Sane scored volley from tight angle after Gabriel Jesus pass who came for Aguero in second half. Only problem with City was that Gundogan struggled in game as number eight, he made less passes than any player for City and largely struggled to be involved in team play. German even in easy game again showed that he is not capable to play on De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva level as attacking midfielder. After this win City remain top of the table and preparing for Champions League game against Lyon in good mood.
Man City won 3-1 against Man Utd without showing anywhere near their best level. Pep Guardiola decided to play with front three of Sterling, Aguero and Mahrez. City started actively on first minutes after combination on left wing David Silva made cut back to Aguero but Argentinian wasn’t able to hit ball from center of penalty box. City most their attacks made from left wing were combined Sterling, David Silva and Mendy, also Aguero helped on left sometimes. On 12 minute after Sterling cross from left and Bernardo Silva put back pass to David Silva Spaniard scored from six yard box, his shot deflected from Lindelof head. After first goal City became more passive. When City had possession played with back three of Walker, Stones, Laporte and Mendy played in more advanced position. Bernardo Silva was to deeper compared to David Silva. Bernardo and Mahrez played closer to touching line because Walker rarely helped attack. David Silva and Sterling on left side played more inside leaving space for Mendy runs. Aguero played closer to left and combined with Sterling and David Silva. United most of their attacks tried from left or right from City defense perspective. Martial and Shaw tried to combine between themselves but because Walker stayed deep and Bernardo great defensive work United didn’t create anything from their attacks. All Man United shots were from set pieces or blocked by City defenders. Fernandinho was free all match and Brazilian easily controlled game with his passing. City didn’t create anything until half time after first goal. After half time Aguero scored goal after one two combination with Mahrez. Argentinian scored from tight angle with powerful high shot over De Gea hands. After that Sterling get great opportunity to make score 3-0 but after Fernadinho pass English winger struggled to control ball. United scored from penalty after Ederson rush challenge on Lukaku in wide position. Martial scored for United. Guardiola reacted with substitution of Sane for Mahrez. After that Sterling started playing on right and Sane on left. United struggled to create chance after penalty and relied on long balls, crosses to threaten City defense. Second substitution was Gundogan for Aguero. After that Sterling played as false nine and Bernardo Silva on right wing. City struggled with final pass to create chances. Only after 44 pass combination and Bernardo cross to Gundogan City scored. German was completely open in opposition box, was able to take a touch and shoot from around six yard box. City won 3-1 without playing great offensive game. Most positive about City performance was that they didn’t allow United to create chances from open play and after conceded goal from penalty totally controlled game with their passing and killed game with third goal. After derby win City are top of the table and can look with optimism for next fixtures after international break.
Man City get 6-0 win against Shakhtar and advance to Round 16 of Champions League. Scoreline suggest that it was easy game and City were dominant with creating plenty of chances but it wasn’t a case. Guardiola made three changes comparing to last game Zinchenko played as left back instead of Mendy, Mahrez started instead of Sane and Gabriel Jesus started instead of Aguero. City started match actively but lacked in final third. Zinchenko in possession played as central midfielder often playing long cross passes on other side to Mahrez. Shakhar forced City play wide blocking central areas. On one of these wide attacks Mahrez was able to make low cross from wide position inside six yard box which was finished by David Silva. David Silva in this game often struggled with final pass and City most dangerous situations came after press on Shakhtar half and Ukrainians losing ball. In one of these occasions Sterling passed to Gabriel Jesus and Brazilian was one against goalkeeper but he waited to long and his shot was blocked in tackle by Shakhtar defender. On other occasion after Shakhar lost ball Fernandinho made through ball to Sterling English winger was one against goalkeeper but when he was trying to hit ball his leg hit turf and he felt on ground, referee given penalty for non existent foul. Gabriel Jesus scored goal from penalty spot and ended his goal drought. City most passing was in non threatening areas between defender and midfielders they struggled to find space behind opponent midfield in positional attacks. Second half started with great Sterling goal, he dribbled past couple opponents in central zone and scored great goal outside penalty box. Fourth goal came from penalty after foul on David Silva. Gabriel Jesus again scored from penalty. Fifth goal came after counter attack and Gundogan pass who was substituted on to Mahrez, Algerian made shot to near post which goalkeeper failed to save. Six goal came at added time after Shakhtar lost ball in center of pitch Gabriel Jesus scored with chip over goalkeeper who was far from gates. Gabriel Jesus scored three goals but all game he was isolated and made only 16 pass attempts in whole game. City struggled in this game to create from positional attacks and almost all their chances came after lose balls and counter attacks combine with two penalties it made look this game far easier than it really was. Guardiola side most attacks were from wide and Shakhtar was successful blocking central areas. After this win City advance to Round 16 of competition and after Lyon draw against Hoffenheim with good chance to finish on first place of Group F.
Pep Guardiola side won 6-1 against Southampton without trying too hard. Man City played as usual 4-3-3 with David Silva playing more advanced role comparing to Bernardo Silva. City scored first goal after Southampton lost ball close to their box and quick combination between Aguero, Davild Silva and Sane which resulted in own goal by Hoedt. City scored second goal almost immediately after Sterling entered box without problem dribbled past Southampton defenders and gave pass inside six yard box which was finished by Aguero.on quick attack but Sergio Aguero was denied after Bernardo Silva through ball. Couple minutes later could score third after quick attack but Sergio Aguero was denied after Bernardo Silva through ball. Little later after Sterling cross and Leroy Sane failed header David Silva scored great volley from around 10 meters. City were extremely in attack interchanging positions. Sterling played on some occasion more inside and Bernardo Silva played closer to touching line, Leroy Sane too played more inside than usually when Mendy overlapped. Sterling and Sane for few minutes switched flanks on which they played. Sergio Aguero dropped deeper to link up with teammates and also pressed opposition defenders actively which resulted in two goals. After three goal in first 20 minuted City intensity dropped significantly and they let opposition hold ball and attach them. City defenders committed rush challenges, conceded unnecessary free kicks and corners. After rush challenge by Ederson Southampton earned penalty which was scored by Ings. City scored fourth goal before half time after Aguero successful press inside opposition penalty box and pass to Sterling in center of penalty box, first attempt by English winger was mishit but second attempt was successful . In second half City conceded numerous of shots, almost all chances came from Mendy side where French full back struggled to defend. Also Ederson mistake almost resulted in goal, Brazilian goalkeeper lost control of ball after shot but saved second attempt from Southampton player. City played on counter attacks in second half and had numerous great opportunities but City players like Aguero, Bernardo Silva hold ball too much on some occasions or like Sane because of poor first touch lost ball. Fifth City goal in 67 minutes came after quick combination between Sterling, Aguero and Sterling shot from angle between goalkeepers legs. Six goal came in added time after counter attack, Sterling pass to Sane and German great shot. City in this game conceded in this game more chances than in any other this season. Guardiola after match said that team wasn’t stable in defense and must improve. Positive from this game is that City were very good in possession, fluid in attack and made numerous great combinations but were to relaxed and careless after first 20 minutes of match. City are top of the league with two point advantage over Chelsea and Liverpool and can look with optimism for next league match against Man United at home in Sunday.
Man City got extremely important win against Tottenham away 1-0 thanks to Mahrez goal on six minute. It was extremely tough game on terrible pitch where both teams weren’t able to show their best qualities. City started controlling game from the start and used Ederson long ball to bypass Spurs pressing, which combined with Trippier bad defending resulted in Sterling pass to Mahrez who scored in empty net. City controlled game and have other good opportunities in first half to score goal but miscommunication between players and bad final passes resulted in missed opportunities for team. Most dangerous shot from City in first half was from Mahrez which was saved by Lorris and deflected to post. David Silva was most important City player in attack he created most chances and was running City offense. Sterling played more advanced role with trying to use Trippier bad defending to his advantage. Bernardo Silva played much closer to Mahrez compared to David Silva and Sterling. Also Algerian played in less advanced role compared to English winger. Fernandinho helped City in build up, had very good passing game and was great in stopping numerous dangerous counterattacks including interception of Sissoko pass after Mendy mistake. Tottenham relied on long balls and passes behind the back to create chances. On two occasions in first half after Mendy and Laporte mistakes Spurs had great chances to score but Sissoko poor pass and Kane bad touch prevented them to make a shot. After first half in first 25 minutes of second half City controlled possession and should scored second goal but first Sterling shot from six yard box was blocked by Spurs defender after he beat Lloris and on other occasion Aguero made poor shot from around 12-13 meters. In both situations David Silva made bad decisions with Sterling chance Spaniard should shoot a ball in empty net instead of passing to Englishmen and in second situation Silva should passed to wide open Sterling instead of Aguero, Argentinian was poor in this game he made only 14 passes and struggled to link up with teammates. After substitutions Spurs forced City to defend in last 20 minutes but only dangerous moment for Tottenham came after Mahrez lost ball in City half but Lamela shot was too high, City in last 25 minuted didn’t make a shot and failed to create chances on numerous counterattacks after bad passes. Both City fullbacks Mendy and Walker were poor in this game with French defender committed numerous defensive mistakes and English full back made rush challenges, was caught out of position and made bad decisions in attack. City weren’t their best in this game, struggled with final actions in attack and made numerous defensive mistakes but still get important away win against top six side after which their return to the top of the Premier League table.
After loss against Lyon City faced tough situation with two next group stage games were away against Hoffenheim and Shakhtar. But with two in a row win Guardiola side now are top of group. In game against Shakhtar they get convincing 3-0 win. City played with back three Stones, Otamendi, Laporte and used Mendy as wing back. Fernardinho, David Silva, De Bruyne played as midfielders and Sterling, Jesus, Mahrez as attackers. City first 15 minutes passed ball without threatening Shakhtar defense. Only problems City had was miscommunication on right side between Mahrez, De Bruyne and Stones which resulted once in dangerous quick attack from Ukrainian side. But after 15 minutes City started create dangerous attacks mainly from left side were combined Mendy, Sterling and David Silva. Sterling with his dribbling was able to enter box on multiple times and David Silva with his passing was able to progress ball to attack and create most chances in a team and from Mendy cross Mahrez shot from 12-13 meters and Shakhtar defender saved ball from line. City also had great chance after Shakhtar corner on quick attack but Mahrez missed a chance. Also David Silva hit a post after Mahrez pass from right with Gabriel Jesus missing after rebound. After combination on left Mendy passed to Jesus, Brazilian made a shot which was blocked and ball was deflected to David Silva who scored volley goal. City created multiple chances before half time but goal came from corner, De Bruyne delivery find Laporte who scored easy header. Belgian was poor in this game clearly struggling after return from injury. David Silva was best City player he was setting tempo for attacks and clearly connected Sterling, Jesus with rest of a team. Mahrez wasn’t as creative but he had multiple chances which Algerian missed or on one occasion was saved by defender from line after he beat goalkeeper. Man City in second half played on counterattacks and ceded possession to Ukrainian side. Sterling on one attack wasn’t able to control ball and failed to have one vs one against goalkeeper also David Silva shot was blocked by defender and Mahrez missed a little bit near post shot. City scored on counter attack from Bernardo Silva great shot after Mahrez pass. This was first touches from Portuguese after he came on pitch for De Bruyne. Also Sterling on last minutes hit a bar. Shakhtar created two chances in last minutes when score was 3-0. City get easy win and are in total control of their destiny in group stage with good chance to finish first.
Guardiola team after international break get easy home win against Dyche side. Most unusual thing about City starting eleven was that John Stones played nominally as right back. Man City played 4with Kompany, Laporte as central defenders, Mendy as left back, Fernandinho, Bernardo, David Silva as midfielders Mahrez, Sane and Aguero as forwards. Man City started game nervously with Laporte bad pass to Kompany that resulted in dangerous challenge by Belgian. In first minutes Burnley tried to press and disrupt City pressing. But after 10 minutes City midfield started to control game and create chances from flanks first after Mahrez passes and later created goal after David Silva combination with Sane in Burnley penalty box and Spaniard low cross to Aguero which Argentinian scored. Only problems for City defensively were that Kompany and Laporte lost numerous challenges and Belgian looked nervous with committing rush challenges. David Silva was main creator in City, he positioned himself in left half space and combined with Sane and Aguero. Sane played advanced position and waited for Silva passes to advance in Burnley penalty box. German wasn’t involved in general play often. Mendy occasionally helped attack and made couple dangerous crosses. Stones played more as midfielder and helped Fernandinho to control midfield and prevent counterattacks. Englishman made 78 passes compared Mendy for compression made only 47 passes. Bernardo Silva played more advanced and central position compared to David Silva close to Aguero. Portuguese was less involved in general play and in 60 minutes before substitution made only 21 pass. Mahrez played as right winger given that Stones played more as midfielder and didn’t support attack as full back Algerian often dropped deeper to receive a ball. And with Bernardo playing centrally close to Aguero, Mahrez often left isolated against oppositions full back to create chances. Riyad created four chances for teammates joint top with David Silva which were wasted mainly by Aguero. Mahrez also was very active in general play Algerian made 78 passes. Aguero scored one goal but had bad game. Argentinian wasted number of great chances and his lack of passing and link up play destroyed couple dangerous attack for City. City wasted couple of great chances in first half and entered half time with only one goal advantage. Man City were able to kill of game after half time with controversial Bernardo Silva goal after David Silva passed ball which was out of pitch and Fernandinho great shot after rebound. In last ten minutes Mahrez scored four goal and Sane after Mendy low cross scored fifth. De Bruyne come back on the pitch from injury after substitution for Bernardo Silva when City lead 3-0. It was easy game for City with two worrying things for Guardiola side. first wastefulness by City players and second Kompany bad, nervous defending which also affected Laporte performance .
In away game against Liverpool Man City played extremely cautious and Guardiola pre-match comments that City will attack were statements that never materialized on the pitch. Man City played with usual personnel four nominal defenders, one defensive midfielder, two nominal attacking midfielders, two wingers and one forward but deployment was different comparing to other games. First 15 minutes Liverpool controlled ball, made multiple attacks and didn’t give City chance to play on Liverpool half, but Klopp side failed to create any dangerous chance only worry for Man City was that Fernandinho lost ball under pressure as Brazilian often does against Liverpool and give them opportunity for quick attack. Man City full backs didn’t go inside, stayed wide, Mendy on some occasions overlap and played more advanced with Laporte helping to defend against Salah, Walker played more deep because of Mane pace. Bernardo Silva played deeper to help advance ball to attack. David Silva essentially played as number 10 close to Aguero but City failed to bring ball to Spaniard. Liverpool played in mid block like in other City games and forced Man City to play wide. Portuguese midfielder was key for Man City to ensure better control of the game. Most of City possession was sterile between defenders, when City attackers got a ball Sterling, Mahrez or Aguero they often lost duels against Liverpool defenders.Liverpool and Man City played very safe, game first shots on target happened after 60 minutes. Best chances of game had Mahrez. Algerian shoot ball little wide after Silva pass, shot ball to near post which was saved by Becker and missed penalty in 85 minute. Guardiola changes of Gabriel Jesus, Sane for Sterling, Aguero made City attack more threatening. Gabriel Jesus dribbled past two Liverpool players and could have won penalty in duel against Lovren. Leroy Sane won penalty after Van Dijk failed tackle and generally German speed made defenders uncomfortable. Liverpool attacks didn’t produce one really great chance, Laporte and Stones were City two best players. Guardiola in post-match interview admitted that City played extremely cautious. tried to slow down pace of game because of Liverpool front three and their dangerous counterattacks. Man City strategy was successful, Liverpool didn’t create one great chance, best chances in the game were in Man City. Guardiola first time didn’t loose at Anfield and City stayed top of the league on goal difference, with De Bruyne returning from injury after international break and are well positioned to fight for Premier League title.
Guardiola team played traditional for him 4-3-3. Unusual thing was that Laporte played as left back with Otamendi and Kompany as center back pair. Man City starting midfield was Fernandinho, David Silva and Gundogan. Pep decided to play Sterling, Sane, Aguero in attack. Man City full back unlike in others game didn’t come inside Walker, Laporte stayed wide and most of the time close to Otamendi and Kompany. This was disastrous start for City when they conceded goal on first minute after failed attempt to make offside. Pretty quickly Aguero scored goal to even score after Leroy Sane pass and David Silva brilliant through ball to German midfielder which created opportunity. After Argentinian goal City created in counter attack another great opportunity, Sterling was one vs one against goalkeeper after another David Silva brilliant pass but Englishman failed to score goal. Man City struggled to open up Hoffenheim in positional attacks and weren’t able to connect with attacking players.Most of team passes were between defenders and in non threatening areas, only source of creativity and control was David Silva. Fernandinho had bad game he often lost ball like in game against Lyon and it created opportunities for quick attack against City. Laporte wasn’t convincing as left back and his mistakes couple of times almost cost goal. Otamendi and Kompany were to aggressive and committed stupid fouls. Belgian defender was rush, lost on numerous occasions orientation in space and showed lack of passing, technical quality. Gundogan again was bad as number eight, German midfielder lacks creativity in final third, too slow ball off ball and lost all physical battles. Ilkay in many games like this is non factor he contributes nothing in attack, defense and gets overrun by opposition midfielders. After first 25 minutes until 70 minute City struggled to create any chances, most of ball possessions was by defenders. Hoffenheim put all players with exception of 3 defenders in midfield and successfully disrupted rhythm, passing of Man City. Only after substitutions of Otamendi, Gundogan for Stones, Bernardo Silva Man City started to threaten German club and create dangerous situations. City started to play back 3 with Walker, Laporte, Kompany with Stones as defensive midfielder, Bernardo Silva as number 8. This allowed Guardiola side to move ball better and play closer to opposition box. City were denied stonewall penalty after goalkeeper foul on Sane and Aguero wasted couple of chances, Winning goal after Hoffenheim defender mistake when he was dispossessed by David Silva in penalty box and Spaniard scored. German side long ball and crosses attempts to score equalizer didn’t create any opportunity. Man City deservedly won on last minutes important Champions League game.
Man City won four league games in a row against Brighton at home without facing any serious problems. For Man City as left back started Zinchenko because of Delph injury and Mendy suspension for one week by Guardiola. Man City played when they had the ball 2-3-5 with Zinchenko, Walker played as inverted full backs helping Fernandinho to stop counterattacks and move ball to attacking players. On numerous occasions Zinchenko and Walker played long balls to other flank for isolated Sane, Sterling to penetrate Brighton defense. Largely Man City attacked wide and best chances were created from wide positions with exception of Aguero goal. David Silva played closer to Sane and played one twos with German winger that helped to enter in the box. Bernardo Silva played closer to Sterling but largely Portuguese midfielder was ineffective in this game. He wasn’t able to connect with Sterling on regular basis or with Aguero. Sane, Sterling played close to touchlines and made successful dribbling on numerous occasions but their final balls were inaccurate most of the time. Aguero often dropped deep to receive ball and combine with teammates. Argentinian striker often was isolated and didn’t have enough support in the box when team made numerous crosses. Aguero goal was result of his individual quality when he dribbled past numerous Brighton players and received one touch pass from Sterling. First Man City goal was result of quick counterattack when Brighton lost the ball in middle of a pitch Aguero received ball, made quick run, passed to Sane who supported attack from wide position and German made pass to Sterling for easy tap in after Englishman made quick run inside six yard box. Only danger from Brighton came when they attacked Walker flank and made crosses from there. Man City totally dominated game, enjoyed more than 80 percent of possession, made 28 shots and allowed only 4 shots. Worrying thing for City must be that quality of chances was pretty low and two goals came after two quick attack when Brighton lost balls. When City tried to create chances against opponent deep block their largely failed, with only one positional attack in game resulted in couple dangerous shots in a row. Man City get comfortable win but still team has big room for improvement.
Pep Guardiola side in away game against Cardiff won convincingly after suffering Champions League loss in home game against Lyon. Man City made three changes from last game Otamendi for Stones, Aguero for Gabriel Jesus and David Silva was left on the bench for Leroy Sane with Bernardo Silva playing in midfield instead of on wing as consequence of this change. Man City defense didn’t face any problems playing as a back four and when City had a ball they played with three defenders. Delph played as central midfielder, helped to advance ball and stop counter attacks from his position. Fernandinho wasn’t pressed by Cardiff and he had no problems in possession. Bernardo Silva played close to Raheem Sterling, combined with him and made overloads. Sometimes Portuguese dropped deep to help advance ball and positioned himself on occasions more centrally to connect with rest of a team especially Aguero. Bernardo provided assist for first Man City goal and scored second goal with great header. Ilkay Gundogan played in the most advanced position from all Man City midfielders. His position resembled David Silva from last season, with the only difference was that most of the game he didn’t combine with Leroy Sane and played more centrally. German midfielder made runs in the box and provided support for Sergio Aguero to form front two in moments when City made passes from wings. In second half Ilkay made runs behind defenders from Leroy Sane flank and provided assist for Mahrez goal in one of these runs, before this goal from similar run he almost created goal for Raheem Sterling. Sterling played as right winger, Englishmen created couple good opportunities, beat multiple time opponents with great dribbles and was constant threat. He sometimes dropped deep to advance ball, moved centrally to combine, provided assist for Gundogan goal and in second half after substitution of Aguero for Mahrez Sterling played as central forward and on occasions played centrally as number 10. English winger was instrumental in fourth goal with his through ball to Gundogan after which German assisted for Mahrez goal. Sergio Aguero played as central forward but wasn’t static, Argentinian was involved in team play, dropped deep, interchanged positions with Man City players in attack and was clinical when scored first team goal from Bernardo assist. Leroy Sane played as left winger, German played close to touchline and often was left isolated in one vs one situations against Cardiff defenders. Sane almost never moved centrally and hardly combine with rest of the team. His assist came after corner. German wasn’t interchanging positions unlike other Man City attackers and was least threatening. In second half Mahrez came on for Aguero, played on right wing, scored two goals and played best minutes for City until now. After this substitution Sterling played in Aguero position as forward. Foden came on for Gundogan, played as number 8, made good impression with creation of one good chance and one dangerous shot. Stones played as defensive midfielder after that he came on for Fernandinho. Man City in first 30 minutes struggled to create chances, but after 3 goals in last 15 minutes of first half intensity of Cardiff dropped and team created many great chances in second half. Most threatening players for City before goals were Sterling and Gundogan. This was an easy game for Pep side and the big difference in players quality was the key.
Man City in this season first Champions League game against Lyon at home showed weaknesses that become evident in games against Premier League sides in August. Instead of Guardiola because of suspension Mikel Arteta was head coach. Pep Guardiola decided to play Laporte, Stones as starting centre-backs, they didn’t have their best game, struggled to cope with opposition fast attacks and lost many physical duels against Lyon attackers. Man City full backs Delph, Walker were poor too, Walker was ineffective in attack on overlaps, passing was off, his inability to play with left foot often hurts tempo of combinations and barely helped in defense. Fabian Delph had horrible game, his miss of ball resulted in goal, also on couple occasions he gave free run for Lyon players on his flank, his contribution as inverted full back in teams passing was minimal and English player made couple ill advised long shots. Team midfield of Fernandinho, Gundogan and David Silva failed to control match, lost ball on numerous occasions and lacked creativity. Fernandinho lost two times ball on his half, which resulted in two goals on quick attacks. Brazilian midfielder played all minutes this season and in most games he was poor, his passing was bad, decision making was off and he looks tired after last season. Gundogan played as number 8 on De Bruyne, Silva position and again he was bad. German midfielder is not creative enough, he is too slow on ball, his passing is not threatening and he can’t cover enough ground defensively, which makes team make vulnerable. Guardiola for third season in a row persist playing German and in all three season worst games in terms of results and quality of football were with Gundogan in starting eleven. David Silva had one of his worsts games, he wasn’t able to connect with attacking players, Spaniard played closer to left most of the game and in last 20-25 minutes closer to right but his passing was off. Man City attack of Sterling, Jesus and Bernardo Silva struggled to create good chances. Raheem Sterling played on left wing and was most active in attack, made multiple shots, runs but it didn’t create one great chance and he was isolated often. Gabriel Jesus wasn’t provided with service, he often drop deep to link up with team and all his attempts to created chances with individual efforts failed short. Bernardo Silva as right winger wasn’t able to affect game, he is just to slow to be effective as winger and needs to be played in midfield. Second half substitutes of Sane, Aguero, Mahrez for Gundogan, Jesus and Sterling helped to make game more lively and Leroy Sane dribbling helped to create goal for Bernardo Silva. Aguero was able to make couple dangerous situations with his individual quality, but team still failed to create at least one great chance and was deservedly beaten. Players individual performances were disappointing, but main blame for defeat was on coaches, because it was obvious from starting line up what weaknesses and problems will it create in this game.
In home game against Fulham Man City get 3-0 win in which they easily could and should have scored at least two more goals. Pep Guardiola used 4-3-3 against London side, club wingers Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling played in positions that they used to play last season. English winger played on right wing and German on left wing, Sterling started this season on left wing. The only difference with the last season was that in De Bruyne position because of his injury played Bernardo Silva. Man City full backs Delph, Walker like last season played more inside and rarely overlapped, their role was to stop opposition counterattacks and help Fernandinho. Man City center backs Otamendi and Laporte were very good in defense and helped to play through Fulham occasional press without problems. Fernandinho played his best game of a season, he was key in first goal with his interception and assisted at 2nd minute of the game for Leroy Sane. Also Brazilian was very good in distribution and stopping Fulham attacks. Man City two attacking midfielders David and Bernardo Silva played close to City wingers, created overloads and made short passes with them. Occasionally they switched positions and Bernardo Silva played little bit more centrally than David Silva. Portuguese showed that he is much more suitable playing as number 8 or 10 than winger position and was deservedly named Man of the Match. Sane and Sterling were responsible for providing width and stretching Fulham defense. German was playing closer to touchline than Sterling, occasionally English winger played more centrally. Their two goals came from six yard boxes after quick attacks. Sane was more reliant on David Silva passing to provide threat, Sterling more often was able to threat opposition without help of Bernardo Silva. Sergio Aguero showed sharpness, provided assist for Sterling goal and dropped deeper to link up with the rest of the team. Argentinian clearly became more adaptable to Guardiola demands but light injury forced to change him for Gabriel Jesus at start of the second half. Brazilian wasted one great chance but also created great one for Bernardo and was good at pressing of opposition and link up play. It is hard to drew any long term conclusion from this game given how poor Fulham showed to be in defense at the start of season. First real test Man City will face in game against Liverpool in October, then we will get more answers to our questions and doubts about team strengths.
In home game against Newcastle Pep Guardiola used even more attacking tactics and formation than last season. Difference with last season was that Raheem Sterling played on the left, also team used two forwards, two wingers, one attacking midfielder and starting center back partnership were Stones and Laporte. Before when Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero started together, Man City played without wingers this time. Fernandinho played deepest position and was responsible for connection with attack, most times Brazilian midfielder struggled with his passing and was too slow on the ball. Raheem Sterling again showed in this game that he has improved his shot and scored goal that was unusual for him before but also this season Raheem Sterling doesn’t play in the box like last season and we don’t see his runs to score from close range. English winger played like Leroy Sane last season close to byline. Riyad Mahrez continued to struggle like Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva before him Algerian at the start didn’t fully understand how to play in Guardiola system and held the ball to much. David Silva played in number 10 and was trying to spread the ball around attack. Benjamin Mendy wasn’t as active in attack and rarely overlap, French full back played deeper and more centrally this time with Raheem Sterling being main attacking force on left side. Man City created 3 big chances in this game but worrying thing for Guardiola side must be that players were wasteful and two goals arrived from chances that you generally don’t expect to score. Man City struggled to create chances before last 30 minutes of game when Newcastle were chasing goal to get a draw. Also on set pieces delivery were bad from City players, they failed to create any chances from them. Most of the time Pep team lacked final third pass, possession was sterile, they clearly missed Kevin De Bruyne which could open up with his passing opposition defenses. Two most dangerous chances were created on counter attacks in open spaces. After this match we can say Guardiola clearly sees Stones, Laporte as main partnership in central defense. Reason for optimism is that Man City in this game compered to other games were better team, created more and better chances. Also without their best player team showed level of football as good as any other team in the league. Man City in first two seasons under Guardiola also started slow, so team even with two lost points is well positioned in title race.
In away game against Wolverhampton Manchester City weren’t able to show their usual level of performance. Pep Guardiola choice of starting line up was bizarre and problems which it created were extremely easy to predict. Vincent Kompany again showed lack of composure, passing and technical ability. Belgian committed stupid fouls, lost ball when he wasn’t even under pressure. Gundogan again was ineffective in number 8 position when he made his usual runs in the box from midfield as usual German couldn’t score and wasn’t able to create chances for others. He made wrong decisions and was too slow. David Silva also had a bad day. He wasn’t able to connect with Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Bernardo Silva like in the last season was average on wing, Portuguese is much more suitable to play in midfield as number 8, he doesn’t have enough pace to play as winger. Raheem Sterling was active on left wing where he didn’t play last season, but he lacked last pass to create goal. Most dangerous moment with his involvement was shot outside box, which Wolves goalkeeper saved and hit bar after his save. This second time in two games Englishmen showed his ability to be threat outside the box, which is clear improvement comparing to last season. Sergio Aguero was extremely unlucky. He often didn’t get a ball, struggled to link up with teammates but was close to score on three occasions, two times he hit woodwork and once from center of a box made bad shot. Most threatening play for Man City was Benjamin Mendy. French full back created two great chances for forwards which weren’t taken by Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus but he showed familiar weaknesses on defense. When Adama Traore was substituted on by Wolves, Mendy was forced to stay deep and City weren’t able to create great chance to score a goal until last minutes.Pep Guardiola substitutes weren’t able to influence game apart from Gabriel Jesus header. To summarize game Man City clearly created enough chances to win game, conceded handball which shouldn’t be allowed but also they clearly missed their best player Kevin De Bruyne which is team main weapon in creating chances and unlocking opponents defenses.
Man City in first home game of a season against Huddersfield started with 3 centrebacks and 2 forwards in Gabriel Jesus, Aguero. The only difference with the first games of last season was that Kyle Walker didn’t start and John Stones defensively was responsible for the flank. Overall it was mix of ideas, tactics that Man City used first month of last season before Benjamin Mendy injury. French full back was responsible for providing width on left flank of attack instead of winger like Sane last season. In possession team played 3-5-2 with Fernandinho as deepest midfielder, John Stones moved higher up a pitch to overload a flank and create isolation situations for Mendy. David Silva played in right half space near Bernardo and made short passes with him near box to create chances. Gundogan played more inside recycle ball and leaving Mendy on flank 1v1 against opposition full back from where he made 12 crosses which were more than any other player on pitch. French full back got one assist from cross to Aguero in match and played vital role in other two team goals, second team goal of Gabriel Jesus was result of Mendy run and third team goal of Aguero was result of his cross plus goalkeeper mistake who couldn’t hold the ball. If this City continues to play this way for width in attack responsible Mendy club wingers will struggle for playing time benching of Sane, Mahrez, Sterling for this match is obvious example. Forwards in this system less often drop to midfield and occupy opposition center backs inside boxes. Gabriel Jesus played more central in this system while Aguero played closer to Bernardo, David Silva overloaded flank and interchanged passes with them. From left flank of attack Mendy is totally responsible for chance creation and his crosses is main way of team trying to create chances. In right flank of attack main way to create chances is short passes and dribbling of Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Aguero with occasional use of crosses. Convincing 6-1 win showed effectiveness of this tactics but Huddersfield decision to press home team all over pitch before first goal was big contributing factor to their demise. Of course 6 goals and 32 shots which is most in Guardiola era are encouraging but given level of opposition it is tough to predict if this tactics bring success to Man City against tougher opposition. This tactics may be used to compensate for absence of Kevin De Bruyne because of knee injury, Gundogan inability to provide same creativity as Belgian and keep fast players like Sane, Mahrez, Sterling for later parts of the game when opposition is tired. Yesterday we were able see glimpses how City will attack teams that try sit deep and compensate for loss of De Bruyne but of course in next couple months Pep Guardiola will try new ways to perfect his team game in bid to defend title.
In first game of a season Man City changed tactical system comparing to last season from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2. In new formation full backs instead of wingers are responsible for providing width Mendy, Walker overlapped and crossed balls while wingers Sterling, Mahrez played more inside. Mendy in build up played delph role tucked inside and helped overcome arsenal press, meanwhile Walker together with Stones, Laporte created 3 man defense. French full back was successful in attacking aspect of his role providing two assists, but looked uncomfortable in central areas of pitch which resulted in loss of possessions and creation dangerous situations by Arsenal. Also were evident Fernandinho weaknesses under pressure which with Gundogan inability to influence game in number 8 position made tough for City to create good goal scoring opportunities, two best chances of the game were created as result of free kick and counterattack after Arsenal player missing ball with Aguero having 1 on 1 situation against Cech. Main positive of the game was that without De Bruyne, David Silva and Sane Man City still managed to win the game showing new attributes of team but as last two years this game showed that Gundogan is not good enough in number 8 position as substitute for De Bruyne, Silva and level of team performances suffered significantly as a result. German is at his best in Man City as number 6 and can be used as cover for Fernandinho providing qualities in midfield in terms of passing, press resistance that Brazilian can’t do. Sterling played in new position compared to last season on left wing, he continued to play on high level as in the last season, scored goal and was dangerous when Arsenal defended deep. New CBs partnership Stones, Laporte had great game, they gave team new dimension in passing and were successful defending in big spaces against Arsenal. This game showed were Man City can become different, better with Mendy can make team more dangerous, providing new tools to attack, Stones and Laporte with their passing can help to control the ball. But also some familiar weaknesses were showed as well, lack of link up play by Aguero, Fernandinho problems dealing with opponents press and Gundogan lack of effectiveness in number 8 role which gave team problems to control the game and create many good chances. In team there are two players competing for starting spot, the formation team plays givehopes that two Man City youngsters Foden and Brahim Diaz will see more playing time, with Foden playing as substitute for Silva, De Bruyne given Gundogan weaknesses there and Brahim as substitute for Sterling on left wing if Guardiola continuous to insists that Mendy will be responsible for providing width and Sane will compete with Mahrez for the right wing spot. This season we can expect team to use new ways of attack, passing , defending in a way to win the second title in a row.
Looks like Man City will have same problems for third time. After winning Premier league City again they don’t improve quality of a squad, fix obvious weaknesses of a team that will hurt its chances to defend a title and more importantly to reach a level of Barcelona and Real Madrid to compete on regular basis for Champion League. Absence in the team attacker that can play in multiple positions on world class level and great central midfielder made team vulnerable to the press which was exploited in Champions League by Liverpool and end team dreams about winning Premier League and Champions League in the same season. If club inactivity in 2014 we can explain because of FFP sanctions, 2012 and this year reason for club lack of transfer activity is Man City board complacency. Club attempted lately to sign Jorginho, Fred to address midfield problem and Alexis Sanchez, Mbappe to increase talent level of attack and have more ways to hurt opposition but refused to pay required fees and salaries thinking that they were too expensive. Man City board new philosophy is that they only pay certain amount for players no higher than 60-70 million pounds and players must want to play only for Manchester City, if other clubs made players better financial offers players must refuse them and club will not improve initial package to match them. This is great philosophy on paper but it makes team weaker and doesn’t allow coach to fully implement his ideas on football pitch. Great talent of Pep Guardiola was enough to win Premier league and reach 100 points but in second half of season level of football significantly dropped, because lack of depth in midfield and attack De Bruyne, Fernandino, Sane played almost all games and were tired. Fernandinho weaknesses in passing, Sane in tight spaces became obvious against Liverpool and were one of main reasons why club lost 5-1 in Champions League Quarter Finals. Transfer of Mahrez will help team to attack in more ways and to rest for others players. Algerian is good player who can play on multiple positions but hardly he will elevate club to a new level and allow to compete against Europe best. Absence in team player of Golden Ball talent level damages team chances to become European Giant. Club is more consumed by PR in media than building squad of required quality. New portrayal of club in press hardly will make it more attractive to the players and help win trophies. Without willingness to pay big money for transfers and players salaries club will not be able to win Champions league. Best example of shortcomings of this philosophy is Bayern Munich which didn’t compete for best players in the world since Champions League win in 2013 and as result allowed Barcelona, Real Madrid with transfers of Bale, Neymar and Suarez to overtake itself. PSG with world record buys of Mbappe, Neymar in short and medium term and is best positioned club to win Champions League with latest evidence of need to pay the big amount of money to compete for all trophies. Juventus transfer of Ronaldo shows club that reaching Champions League final two times in the last four years recognizes need for game changer to win European trophy and player that will help increase its popularity and revenues. If Man City continues with current strategy and buys only players for certain prices it will have little chances to reach level of success of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Best hope for the club at the moment is that in academy will be such player as Messi, Ronaldo level and he will lead team to Champions League glory which is highly unlikely. Man City must change its transfer strategy or accept its place as second tier club in Europe with limited capacity to reach level popularity and revenues of Real Madrid and Barcelona that ensures long term future of the club.