PMB: Manchester City v Chelsea - tactics
news Sun 4 Mar 2018
We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today's Premier League encounter at the Etihad...
• The defeat at Old Trafford was only the second occasion this season the Blues have lost league points after leading a game. What will concern Antonio Conte more is that it was the second time in a week his side had surrendered a precious advantage.
• Willian’s strike at Old Trafford was his 12th in all competitions – matching his best ever return in royal blue. The Brazilian has also assisted on seven goals.
• Eden Hazard has scored four and set up four in his last seven games against Manchester City. Olivier Giroud shares the Belgian’s record of three goals in 10 league games against the league leaders.
• The Blues should have vigour on our side after a match-free midweek, in contrast to City’s testing few days. The hosts are yet to concede at home in the opening half-hour of a league game, but can be vulnerable just before the break.
• It is worth remembering, too, that City’s high defensive line was ruthlessly exposed in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory here last season, with Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa instrumental in switching play quickly from front to back. Conte will expect similar attentiveness from his main forward this weekend, whether that is Alvaro Morata, Giroud or Hazard in a false no.9 role.
• Do not bank on any goals from corners, however – Sunday’s combatants share the league’s lowest tally of just two conceded from that source.
• With just two full days between the trip to Arsenal and this game, Pep Guardiola will surely shuffle his pack again. Whoever features at full-back, with Kyle Walker succumbing to injury at the Emirates, Chelsea will hope to exploit any errors in positioning or on the ball. Speedy transitions worked for the Blues last season and could do so again.
• Manchester City are a fluid attacking side who do not mind losing possession and work hard to win it back. Their forwards press in packs, unsettling defences, and the Blues will have to eradicate the defensive errors of the past two matches in order to come away with a result.
• Fernandinho’s hamstring injury means a loss to Guardiola’s engine room, with 34-year-old Yaya Toure barely used, and Ilkay Gundogan the only fit defensive-minded midfielder in his squad. In the corresponding fixture at the Bridge, the Brazilian was the anchor in a 4-1-2-3 formation.
• David Silva has often proved the danger man against Chelsea, finding space between the lines and setting up opportunities for others. Sergio Aguero has managed five goals the past four times he has faced the Blues.
• City have faced just 176 attempts on goal compared to 286 for Chelsea and 444 for Brighton, and it will be interesting to see how they cope should Chelsea test them in that department as much as last year.
• In the FA Cup, League One Wigan put most top-flight sides to shame, keeping their compact, low defensive line, while City switched play as usual hoping to expose gaps. When gaining possession they were energetic and rapid on the break, and might have taken the lead after regularly robbing their opponents in advanced areas, even before Will Grigg’s famous winner.
OLD BOY BLUES
• Kevin De Bruyne was signed from Genk in 2012 and made his Premier League debut as a 22-year-old for the Blues in August 2013.