Manchester City welcome Jose’s Chelsea to the Etihad, in what seems to be a game that could tilt the title towards the club that grabs all the three points. The noisy residents of Manchester banged 5 past Hugo Lloris and Tottenham, while Chelsea struggled to convert their chances into goals against medieval football. For all the hype surrounding City’s blistering form in front of goal, what should Chelsea expect?
City while transitioning into attack, hold nothing back. Taking the term all guns blazing to another level. Freedom is given to a lot of players, and responsibilities, not always equally shared.
The center-backs push up and Kompany orchestrates and organizes the structure. On paper it is a 4-4-2, but it looks far from it when City are in full flow. Fernandinho and Toure are the so called central midfielders. Fernandinho prefers to defend, while Toure prefers to attack. Silva and [enter name of your choice except Navas] are the wide midfielders, who function as interiores . However when City need a bit of width due to their full-back unable to do because of the opposition’s strategy, Navas gives them an edge. He hugs the touchline and drags players out wide for small pockets of space to open up.
City when using an interiores function a bit different as said before. Both the full-backs are to get themselves forward, with the full-back who is not directly taking part in the attack, holding himself back and being level with the last man in midfield. To explain that easier, if the ball is being played on the left, the right-back will hold himself a little back and be level with the defensive midfielder to make sure counter-attacks lose their efficiency.
A screen grab from the Arsenal game. Zabaleta has positioned himself well to either receive the ball or retreat quickly in case the ball is lost.
Another area to look at is the vital three man engine. The engine that keeps the team fluid and running at all times. Silva drops in the middle, and works with Toure and Fernandinho. They try to make each other available through their movement, which is exceptionally clever. One man always defends, and we all know who that is. By doing so, they also negate the problem of having no man behind the two strikers as seen on paper. To an extent it’s largely seen as a 4-1-3-2 .
If Chelsea are to win it’ll be vital to shut that area down, that is the bottom line. Block passing lanes, be physical and make sure that at least one of the three is never in the game for 90 minutes. That increases our chances of getting a favourable outcome to 40% .
Now if those three form the engine, one of the two strikers is the fuel. Aguero and Negredo was a blossoming partnership, with Aguero acting as the front-man and Negredo often dropping deep to collect the ball and link up play. This also helps negate another problem. City on paper would be heavily outnumbered in the attacking third when the midfield joins in. With a striker dropping deep, it could essentially change a 2v3 scenario to a 3v3 .
Dzeko and Jovetic have also been used, and in that partnership, the best part is that both of them can drop deep naturally to facilitate the play. All their strikers are exceptionally good at drifting to wide areas. Versatility is key in their play.
Now I don’t have much to say about their defensive transition but, there seems to be this kind of idea that City are going to be really easy on the counter, and that isn’t the truth. It was quite easy at the start, with Pellegrini having quite a few problems in defining a philosophy that could make ball retention easier.
City also have their fair share of players tracking back, notably on the side Silva starts in, as it tends to be more open. From one of the strikers, to atleast two of the midfielders, they don’t hesitate to pull themselves back and recover possession.
On a tactical perspective, Monday to a football fan is going to be what cocaine is to a drug addict.