Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Manchester City target Johnny Evans and Victor Lindelof

Manchester City went with a familiar group of players from last season rather than including newer faces like Jérémy Doku, Mateo Kovacic, or Matheus Nunes. They come into this game frustrated that they aren’t in first place. To win the Premier League this season, you need to be near perfect. Experience in the lineup helps turn the tide and start winning runs.

My first thought is that Manchester City is making a mistake by pressuring Andre Onana when he has the ball. He makes more passing errors when he’s allowed time on the ball. Think back to that Wolves match. They are pressing him from Onana’s right side. If the goal is to force turnovers through Onana, it would be better to pressure from his left side to force him to pass to the right. That was not their goal.

Manchester City targeted Johnny Evans at center-back and Victor Lindelof at left-back on Manchester United’s left side. That is their weak side. Forget Onana, give Dalot and Maguire little room, force passes into Evans and Lindelof. This worked.

United’s entire buildup hinged on whether Rasmus Hojlund would beat Ruben Dias in the air. Gvardiol and Dias were there to pick up scraps once either of those attempts to pass out of the back. It’s a very simple but effective game plan, which forced several simple turnovers.

Manchester City were far more interesting to watch out of possession than in possession. When do they press, who do they press, what part of the field are we on?

Figure 1.1 - Bernardo Silva crosses to Erling Haaland in space for the headed goal.

Targeting and exploiting the mismatch of Evans and Lindelof against Haaland and Foden on the back post extended to Manchester City’s in-possession play. All three of City’s biggest chances of the game came from their right, United’s left.

  • The save by Onana in the first half from the Erling Haaland header.
  • The goal by Erling Haaland from the cross by Bernardo Silva.
  • The shot to Onana’s left with Haaland ready to pick up the parry, and the goal by Foden from a Haaland assist.

Antony is a very important player for Manchester United. Bruno Fernandes doesn’t intimidate on the wing. Manchester City’s rest defense was very disciplined. They always had a +1 back to outnumber, never getting caught out. Josko Gvardiol and Kyle Walker both had perfect games.

Antony could have helped out of possession to pressure Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish. Both Silva and Grealish had their way with Diogo Dalot 2v1. He could have helped in possession to pin Josko Gvardiol back and force Bernardo Silva to help Gvardiol. The problem being that Antony was subbed on in the 86th minute. It’s hard to make up for a 2-goal deficit in around 10 minutes.

Are Alejandro Garnacho and Sergio Reguilon the impact subs you bring on to change a game when you’re down 2-0 in the 73rd minute? Sub Rasmus Hojlund off? These are the substitutions of a team resigned to the loss. All it would have taken was one goal and a bit of momentum to turn the tide of the game.

Complete domination from Manchester City, whether they have the ball or not. They play with their food and then they eat when they want.

Back to top Share on Twitter Email this post Copy link