We expected Pep Guardiola to take one year in England to adjust himself as a manager. Now that is behind us, the wish level has risen two-fold and the Catalan is delivering in terms of setting his team. He has made few tactical changes this year in order to concede less goals without sacrificing the attacking play. Firstly, the signings made, especially in fullback and goalkeeping area is proving pivotal.
Analysis of Pep’s system: –
The pressure was heating up gradually on Manchester City and Pep to deliver this year. At least one trophy or the league would be perfect. Even the gaffer knows that, he is after all managing a so called “VIP” team of the Premier League. It was clear that he wanted change in fullback and goalkeeping positions along with depth in attacking slots. Thankfully, due to the owners’ riches, he got those wishes completed.
If we analyse City’s games this season, Pep has actually got his team to play a bit deeper than last year. He chose 3 at the back vs Liverpool and bomb the wing-backs forward. A flexible back 4 vs Chelsea who did their defensive job first, before thinking of going forward. Fernandinho has been instrumental in protecting that back-line.
This plan has allowed the likes of Sterling, Sane, de Bruyne and Silva to take on the opposition. It has given them a much needed freedom to operate at a level dominating the major areas of the pitch. The inverted fullback tactics applied in the Chelsea game was just a tactical masterstroke.
We breakdown Pep’s unraveling thought process at Stamford Bridge and why this suggests he means business this year. The above image shows us the starting formation of Manchester City vs Chelsea with arrows suggesting every players’ roles.
The wingers Sane and Sterling had the job to stay high and wide supporting Jesus. The back two of Stones and Otamendi had to defend first without much complications. Walker and Delph were fullbacks while defending but, in attack they join Fernandinho as wide midfielders. This gave Silva and de Bruyne the license to roam in midfield and create chances.
As shown, the high and wide wingers pushed Alonso and Azpilicueta back throughout the game. Chelsea got three crosses in the box during the game, shows the extent of domination in wide areas. To add to it, while in possession, Walker and Delph moved themselves into wide midfield positions to add options.
This helped de Bruyne and Silva to recieve balls on half-spaces and create chances for 2 v 1 in wide areas. Even Delph moved forward down that left side to give more headaches to the Chelsea defence.
We all know City are without their regular left-back Mendy who was sensational for them thus far. So, to replace him in the manner Pep has done against Chelsea was just brilliant. It just shows the tactical depth and confidence of a man meaning business to win something this year. Last season was skeptical at times, assurance is beaming this time.
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City have a strong defensive performance thus far with just 6.4 shots per game conceded in the Premier League. Same goes in Champions League with 7 shots per game. They have conceded only 3 goals in 10 games with 7 clean sheets exhibiting volumes of the work done by Pep and his men.
On the other hand, City have scored 22 goals in 7 league games and 6 in the Champions League. They have an average shots per game of 19.3 in the league which is staggering. The overall possession is 68.7% which clearly states this team is dominating the league in every aspect of the game. In the Champions League too, they have a 14.5 shots per game with 61% overall possession.
Well, it’s been impressive so far by Pep and his Manchester City team. He is a very clever operator with a razor sharp tactical mind. He didn’t ponder over the absence of Mendy and came out with a plan which took everyone by surprise. The fabulous use of Delph and Walker as inverted fullbacks is something unique in the Premier League.
He said in an interview recently that he will never change his way of playing football. Truth be told, he has adjusted few things in defence and not sacrificed one bit in his attacking style. This has brought great reward thus far and the 2017/18 season seems to be the one when Pep becomes world’s best.
Gary Linekar of BBC interviewing Pep Guardiola on English Football and many other aspects: –