Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

After a first season which unexpectedly saw newly kindled Manchester forces become extras in Chelsea’s blitz to the Premier League title, two old rivals will meet yet again, this time as the two main title contenders. Jose Mourinho faces Pep Guardiola at Old Trafford in probably the biggest game of the season so far. Adrift of the mesmerising City by eight points after fifteen games, this meeting is of huge significance in the long battle for the Premier League crown.

United used a 4-4-1-1 type shape. Key man De Gea was the goalkeeper. His defence was Valencia, Smalling, Rojo and Young. In the centre of the pitch, both in 6/8 type roles was Matic and Ander Herrera, in the absence of Pogba. Martial and Rashford flanked them. Lingard played as a second striker behind Lukaku.

Unsurprisingly, Pep attempted to spring another tactical surprise in a big game. Not so much in his team selection, but slightly in the positioning of his his players in an adjusted formation. Ederson was in goals, with Walker, Kompany, Otamendi and Delph the back four, City missing John Stones and Benjamin Mendy. Fernandinho was the 6, with De Bruyne and David Silva the interiors. Leroy Sane was a right winger. Sterling played in a dynamic false 10 role, with Gabriel Jesus in a left wide forward role. City didn’t use a clear number 9.

Exploitation of Man-Marking Through Use of the 10 Space

In anticipation of Jose Mourinho’s typical man-marking approach in big games, Pep Guardiola adapted the structuring and role of his advanced players in possession to exploit spaces which can typically be created and found versus man-marking.

Creation and use of spaces due to opposition inadequate man-marking can be done in a number of ways. This may be done through specific positional play, rotations, receiving patterns, actions on the ball and many, many others. Manchester City used a variety of different methods to exploit United’s man-marking, particularly in the centre. Most notably was the adjustment of the positioning of City’s front three. So far this season, it’s been known definitively as Sterling right-wing, Sane left-wing and one of Aguero/Jesus as a number 9. However, in this match, Pep chose Jesus, but not as a central-forward. The Brazilian played in a wide left-forward role, vacating the centre for Sterling to play in a central role just behind the front line. Though throughout the season so far, we have sometimes seen City’s CF situationally drop from typical 9 areas into slightly deeper 9.5 positions, to receive from deeper and offer lay-offs to vertical runners. Using Sterling, a more technically able player in the central attacking role however, suggested Guardiola wanted far more impact from his central attacker in deeper chance creation in this match than previously. Sterling could support different zones very dynamically, playing in a free role. He could aid in overload of the wings as well as make vertical runs beyond the United defence, but it was clear that his occupation of the 10 space, which City would look to open through manipulation of United’s man-marking, was his main job. In order to free up and/or use this space, City used their positional play, which could differ from situation to situation. One movement pattern we saw was for City’s interiors, De Bruyne and David Silva, to push into high midfield positions, wide in either halfspace. 

Man-marked by Herrera and Matic, the pair could drag both United’s defensive-midfielders out of their position, much wider than ideal. Splitting the two apart created a large distance between them, with a gap in this central-midfield space. This gap was difficult to cover for United, as Lingard was occupied defensively by having to cover Fernandinho and support Lukaku in blocking progressive lanes from the centre-backs. As this space opened up, Sterling would move from his position into this hole. From here, he would look to receive a vertical pass from deep. Ideally, he would turn and run directly at the United defence. When Rojo followed him however, playing a lay-off to a supporting runner was usually the option. 

Using dynamic superiority was another way City looked the receive in the hole created in the 10 space through their exploitation of Mourinho’s man-oriented system. When Sterling was not available, due to occupation of a different zone which was too far from the 10 space, it would be De Bruyne or Silva tasked with occupying the space. Initially the same method as previously mentioned, the interiors would split wide and high in either halfspace, with Herrera and Matic following. Just as Herrera/Matic got tight to them, and there was potential for an open passing lane from deep to the 10 space, one of City’s CM’s move burst back inside into the previously empty hole. Due to Herrera/Matic just moving outwards to quickly mark De Bruyne/Silva, they are likely to be unable to move off again back in this direction to follow their marker. This could potentially give the drifting player a chance to receive in this space for a second or so.

Poor Structuring Leads to Vulnerability

As is not typical of a defensive-minded team, more specifically managed by Mourinho, there was a clear vulnerability from Manchester United in the case of counter-attacks. The reasoning for this was largely down to the weak, unstaggered structure set by Mourinho when his team did have rare ball possession.

Mourinho’s plan was to escape the pressure of City, and target their vulnerabilities in defending long balls, by playing long high passes from deep into advanced areas around and beyond Man a City’s backline. Lukaku was often the target, with the 6’3 forward looking to knockdown or flick-on to supporting runners Rashford, Lingard and Martial, who all started in position almost as high as the Belgian himself. The long balls forward offered little base or structure that a progressive build-up would allow for. Valencia and Young had very ‘straight’ roles, and simply supported the wingers from very wide positions. The two full-backs, similarly to Rashford and Martial, the wings, had huge distances to cover in moving infield to return to defensive position quickly. This meant unless United could counterpress to delay City (difficult unless Rashford/Martial had moved inside to support Lukaku and Lingard), all four wide players for United very often too far out wide to support in the defending of a counter-attack. This left Herrera and Matic, who mostly played as a flat double-pivot with little involvement in progression, to hold the centre of midfield themselves. As a flat double-pivot rather than being staggered, the pairing were significantly more vulnerable to being penetrated and received behind, as they covered less vertical distance. 

Though infrequent due to United’s low number of opportunities to actually attack, when United’s long balls went forward, City actually exploited this central vulnerability very well, up until the final third, which was simply down to poor final balls. The dribbling ability of De Bruyne/Silva/Sterling combined with the pace and movement of Jesus and Sane simply looked too much for the disorientated United backline and Herrera and Matic to contain. As the ball reached the box however, City often delayed their final ball, giving United a vital second or two to recover and make key blocks.

Conclusion

Anticipated as a potential game of the season, with two footballing masterminds looking to outsmart one another using the supposed endless quality at their disposal, the first Manchester derby of the season was perhaps a slight anticlimax, at least tactically. City’s domination of the game was difficult to fault, as their almost unpressable circulation and Pep’s game management admirably allowed to take a 2-1 win and most importantly three points added onto their previously eight point lead at the top of the table.

Pep clearly understood the importance of this match in the Premier League title race and utilised a gameplan which saw his Manchester City side through the match as winners. Though City’s possession lacked its usual bite and penetration, Mou’s Red Devils didn’t looked hugely threatening at any point throughout the match, which was down to City’s well measured game plan. There were not as many massively impacting factors on the game as predicted, due to the game killing domination of Pep’s City, who now hold an all important 11 point lead at the top of the English Premier League.

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Manchester City 5-1 Huddersfield Town

In the FA Cup Third Round, Manchester City clash with Huddersfield Town for a second time in two weeks. At Kirklees Stadium not so long ago, David Wagner’s Terrier’s battled with Pep Guardiola’s City side in a tough match both physically and mentally. Managing to keep out The Citizens for 90 minutes was enough to earn Huddersfield at least a replay in a game which could have went either way.

In a schedule so intense for both sides, it is difficult to predict whether or not we will see as hectic yet measured energetically a match as before. For sure, Pep’s City will look to play an intense game in all phases. Whether his counterpart, Wagner’s Huddersfield, can again match this will be a big factor in deciding the outcome of the football match.


Despite a questionable start to his City career, Bravo was trusted to start in goals. He would be protected by Zabaleta at right-back, Stones and Otamendi at CB and Clichy returning at LB. Young Aleix Garcia started as the main pivot alongside partner Fernandinho. Main man Kevin de Bruyne played in a variable role ahead of the double pivot, with Sterling and Sane on the right and left wing respectively. Aguero was up front.

Huddersfield started with a team of; Coleman. Cranie, Stankovic, Hudson and Holmes-Dennis as the defence. Dean Whitehead protected the back four as a six, whilst Phillip Billing played as a 6/8 hybrid in midfield too. Lolley, Jac Payne and Harry Bunn were behind striker Quaner.



2-4 Build-Up Shape

Against the intense central pressing orientation of Huddersfield, Man City utilised a double pivot of Spaniard Aleix Garcia and Fernandinho, with a particular focus of their positioning and movements when building.

Offering two different skillsets, Garcia more technical capabilities, whilst Fernandinho provides defensive guile, this showed why Guardiola required a pairing offering these two profiles in order to defeat the press of Huddersfield. Positioned in either halfspace, with Stones and Otamendi splitting wide, to either side of the 18-yard box, and Zabaleta and Clichy pushing up slightly, this formed a 1(Bravo)-2-4 shape in the first stage of build-up.


This double pivot was in place for a number of reasons. 

One reason for this was for security. Against the intense pressure of Huddersfield, having two players was far stronger in case of a turnover. Put simply and quite generally, two men are more effective defensively than one. Other than this though, the defensive protection Fernandinho was able to provide whilst Garcia was given freedom to make variable movements from his starting position and attempt to receive and turn to progress, was important. Facing the 3-2 press of ‘Town which would look to pinch inside and squeeze Manchester City in deep, central build-up play, it was key that both pivots supported their respective centre-halves as well as each other, to prevent isolation against the quickly springing press.

As well as these defensive reasons, having two players, one in either halfspace, in the second line of building meant a lone 6 would not have to deal with such a physically demanding role in supporting either CB. Having two pivots meant the ball-near of the pairing could make horizontal or dropping movements to support the CB in possession. Being able to do this so consistently meant City avoided their common issue of playing weak and unprogressive passes from CB to near full-back, as there was usually support either in the centre or in the same halfspace. Whilst the ball-near pivot supported his near CB, the ball-far had a key structural role. He would be tasked with retaining efficient spacing to his partner, and provide connections from one side to the other flank. He must provide a nearby horizontal connection with the other side, to prevent disconnect and isolation of one side to another. 

Playing too many lateral and backwards passes when progressive, usually vertical passes seemed a viable option, Garcia didn’t excel in the double pivot, perhaps showing he is similar to many players of his kind, registas, who function far better as a single pivot, having their own space in front of or in between pressing lines. The double pivot did it’s job however, and though didn’t show off the abilities of its two players, certainly protected City effectively when building against a team with great pressing ability.

Methods of Progression

 When Pep Guardiola faces a tough, high press, innovation often comes to life. Different methods, usually featuring high levels of verticality, are experimented with, often to great success, as Guardiola and his players attempt to beat and exploit the high press. Things were no difficult against Huddersfield, as we saw City use a number of different progression methods in order to beat the press and build efficiently from there.

With Kevin de Bruyne having a very fluid, flexible and variable role as a false 10, he couldn’t consistently be relied on tore dive between the lines and offer a vertical outlet from build-up. His fellow midfielder’s Garcia and Fernandinho had deeper role in front of the defence, and Sane, Aguero and Sterling were very fixed in their wing and traditional 9 roles. It was clear City would have to be innovative in their vertical progression, and that they were. The inverted full-back made a return, even if not as prominent as before, with Pablo Zabaleta often drifting infield to positions in the right halfspace.

Using Zabaleta allowed City to have an extra man closer to the middle with the potential to receive. This opened up possible straight vertical passes from Stones to Zabaleta in ad advantageous position, or a degree of diagonality from Otamendi if Billing was too orientated on marking a pivot and didn’t block important lanes.

A second method City used to escape the primary pressure point of Huddersfield was as below;

Using De Bruyne’s straight body shape facing his own goals as bait for Huddersfield’s press to pinch inside, in a situation where pressure could be applied to De Bruyne’s blind side in a dangerous area of the field, the Belgian midfielder would receive a straight pass deep in his own half. Drawing pressure, this opened space elsewhere, particularly in the nearby areas where City were looking to access. By drawing Huddersfield’s players away from these spaces, City had a greater chance of accessing them successfully. De Bruyne would as he received the pass, find an open lane to a full-back, usually right-back (Zabaleta) as he could play this technically difficult pass with his stronger right foot, and play a curled, first time pass out wide. Following Huddersfield’s central pressure, the wide areas were often left without cover situationally, allowing City’s receiver to progress with the ball.

This was a very effective method of City progressing from build-up, even if quite risky. The technical quality and strong timing of De Bruyne’s movement and pass allowed him to create and make use of such situations.

Conclusion

Ending in what was most likely a deserved 5-1 victory for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, this FA Cup tie was one which could’ve swung either way depending on the momentum at different points in the match.

Despite tactical, most building, issues throughout the first part of the season, City seem to be significantly improving. Progressions looks cleaner and more secure, whilst further up the pitch, chance creation and general finishing has seen a great rise. This could also be put down to improved individuals performance, particularly the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, without mentioning the recent ‘reemergence’ of Sergio Aguero.

Benfica 1-2 Napoli

A key encounter in Group B of the 2016/17 edition of the UEFA Champions League, Napoli’s meeting with Portuguese outfit Benfica would ultimately decide the outcome of their Champions League group, confirming who would progress to the last 16 or drop into the Europa League. Both sitting on eight points, Rui Vitoria’s Benfica would be conscious of the fact any of Sarri’s Napoli or Turkish side Beskitas could all progress depending on how the night’s results unfolded.


Eduardo was the goalkeeper at the base of Benfica’s 4-4-2. Semedo was the right-back, with Luisao and Lindelof the central defenders. Almeida left-back. Salvio, Pizzi, Fesja and Cervi were the midfielders. Gonçalo Guedes and were the two strikers.

Pepe Reina was Napoli’s goalkeeper. Albanian Hysaj was the Italian side’s right full-back, while Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly played in the middle of the backline, Ghoulam left. Young midfielder Diawara played as the 6, with Allan and Hamsik based slightly higher on either side of him. Callejon, Gabbidiani and Insigne made up the Naples side’s front three.

Exploitation of Midfield Pressing

Pressing in a mid block from a 4-5-1/4-1-4-1, Napoli’s interiors Allan and Hamsik had intense pressing roles as Benfica brought the ball into midfield spaces, whilst the young 6 Diawara behind them them, also had a relatively intense shifting role in order to prevent clean and consistent Benfica progression through the centre or halfspaces.


With Manolo Gabbidiani solely pressing Benfica’s centre-backs, not overly intensely but enough to force quicker decisions from Luisao and Lindelof, Allan and Hamsik had important roles to ensure that despite the midfield being the main area Napoli wanted to press in, there was compactness between the first and second lines of pressure and Benfica couldn’t easily receive between the lines. Particularly when the ball was in their halfspace and Benfica were beginning to progress into midfield, though also as soon as Gabbidiani was bypassed, Allan and Hamsik would press to prevent easy progression through the centre, and ideally force Benfica backwards. As one midfielder pressed, Diawara would shift over into the halfspace to cover the vacated space.


Generally, this was effective when the two non-pressing midfielders (situationally) shifted efficiently and covered the space to close vertical passing lanes through the centre or halfspaces. 

Expectedly there were some problems with a system based on such intense shifting constantly throughout the match in what is usually the most hectic area of the pitch. Due to either physical limitations, lapse in concentration or effective manipulation from Benfica, there was the recurring theme of an open diagonal lane to a Benfica man in between the lines.
 

When Benfica baited Napoli’s midfielders to press by circulating in front of the midfield line, they would often force both Allan and Hamsik to press by playing horizontal passes between either halfspace. This meant Diawara was tasked with shifting from halfspace to halfspace quicker than the ball to cover the gap momentarily, obviously an impossible task. This meant the space behind each presser was opened and Benfica’s opposite CM was able to play a diagonal pass to a teammate who was positioned in the halfspace between lines.

High Line Condenses Game

Defending very close to the halfway line on the majority of occasions, Benfica used a very high defensive line, which also pushed the two following lines up in a bid to firstly, limit the space Napoli had in their possession progression and secondly, increase the possibility of Napoli running into offside positions when using their frequent vertical movement in behind.

Allowing Benfica to maintain defensive access on the ball in Napoli build-up and early progression, as well as generally retaining compactness, Benfica pressed Napoli in a 4-4-2 relatively high up the pitch. Although this wasn’t a main objective of Benfica’s high line, it did have it’s reasons. The Portuguese side would look to disrupt Napoli’s rhythm in their well drilled yet fluid build-up in an attempt to deter consistent and clean progression. Napoli however, faced this with and generally escaped Benfica’s pressing very well, utilising small overloads and their combination ability to beat and at time even manipulate and exploit the press.



Perhaps the main reason for Benfica’s high line was an attempt at a slightly different method of defending Napoli’s runs in behind the defence. 



As shown above, Callejon receiving high diagonals in the final third is a pivotal aspect of Napoli breaking into these dangerous areas. Callejon’s diagonal runs off the right wing are excellent and have in the past caused opposition great problems. Benfica attempted to combat this by stepping up even higher, leaving more space. Although seemingly a strange method, it forced Napoli’s runners to time runs to perfection, otherwise risking offside, as such a large space is now considered offside. Callejon, though excellent at timing his runs (“Callejon can see the offside line better than the linesman”) naturally found it difficult to time his runs to perfection every single time. As well as this, Napoli’s deep distributors were forced to play higher, floated passes over Benfica’s defence, as passes with too much pace couldn’t be caught due to runs needing to be delayed. These slow passes in the air gave Benfica an imperative second or so to recover and immediately get into positions to defend the spaces surrounding the ball before it had even landed. Diawara attempted a number of chipped through balls, particularly to Gabbidiani’s vertical runs, but Luisao and Lindelof were comfortable at mopping them up in the air or as the ball reached the ground, situations the pair were both superior to the Italian striker in, due to their aerial ability and pace. This was perhaps a reason for Napoli’s lack of connectivity with their front man.

Credit to @11tegen11



In an attempt to get in behind the high line of Benfica using runners, Napoli used a specific pattern and methods of non-verbal communication (specific movements as a trigger) in order to gain access to these spaces. Napoli’s left sided attacker Lorenzo Insigne would often drift into his favoured area of the left halfspace, opening up the wing. Ghoulam now began to move forward into the vacated space. As he began to make his run, a high diagonal from deep would be shaped to play, Ghoulam would then accelerate in behind Benfica high on the left wing to receive the diagonal pass. Due to the distance of the pass being longer, and Ghoulam’s run not risking offside, more pace could be played on the pass, making it more difficult to defend against. 

Conclusion

Progressing through to the last 16 as winners of Group C, Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli will be satisfied with their performance throughout the group, even if not as comfortable as they would’ve liked. With Polish striker Arek Milik already back in rehab training despite suffering an ACL injury a couple of months ago, perhaps one of Napoli’s main issues, lack of a quality number 9, will be solved sooner than expected. Benfica’s rigid defence in their high block proved to be a difficult door for Napoli to unlock, though the introduction of Belgian forward Dries Mertens after 57 minutes added some much needed verticality and direct running through the centre and proved to be the required key to unlock Benfica. 

The Portuguese side showed some promising aspects tactically, and deservedly also progress to the second round.

Man United 1-2 Man City

Jose vs Pep. Red vs Blue. United vs City. On the third gameweek of the English Premier League season, the first Manchester derby of the campaign, of Jose and Pep’s reign’s, has arrived. 

United have enjoyed three wins out of three in the Premier League under ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho, with the added bonus of winning the community shield prior to the beginning of the Premier League fixtures. Guardiola’s Man City team have dominated the vast majority of all of their games to date, also winning everyone of their Premier League games so far, alongside gaining Champions League qualification. In one of the most highly anticipated Manchester derbys of recent years, both sides will be looking to continue their 100% records. Only one can.


Jose Mourinho started his first Manchester derby with a couple of surprising inclusions, as well as familiar faces dropping to the bench. De Gea started in goals behind a back-four of Valencia, Bailly, Blind and Shaw. Fellaini played as defensive-midfielder, with Paul Pogba in a slightly more advanced position to the left of him. Mkhitaryan surprinsgly made his full debut, seeing the in-form Mata demoted to the bench. Rooney started behind Ibrahimovic whilst Jese Lingard played on the left, seeing Martial leave the starting 11.

New boy Claudio Bravo made his City debut in goals. There was a back-four of Sagna, Stones, Otamendi and Kolarov, which saw Zabaleta and Clichy both lose their starting berths. Fernandinho started as the 6, with David Silva to the left of him as an 8. As the right central-midfielder was Kevin de Bruyne, who played a more advanced role than he has been so far this term. Sterling and Nolito played as the wingers, centred by young Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho, who took over from the suspended Sergio Aguero.

Mourinho’s Initial Man-Orientation

Knowing the potential of Manchester City when cleanly progressing through their build-up phases, Jose Mourinho instructed his Manchester United team to adopt a man-marking approach in phase one of City’s build-up, which was most significant at City goal-kicks.

City chose to build in a (1)-3-3-3-1, this was a relatively adaptable shape for United to man-mark from their 4-2-3-1. Stones and Otamendi would drop very deep on either side of the 18-yard box, moving into the vacated space centrally was Fernandinho. Kolarov and Sagna pushed up the wing slightly, while David Silva frequently dropped into a deep 8 position within the left halfspace, to support and offer a vertical escape from the press from here. 

Ibrahimovic and Lingard positioned themselves close enough to Otamendi and Stones to deter Bravo from passing to them, whilst remaining compact enough with the centre to prevent Bravo from penetrating the first line easily. Rooney marked Fernandinho whilst also attempting to block any passes through the halfspaces. Fellaini and Pogba stuck tight with Silva and De Bruyne, following them as deep or high as the City midfielders went. Mkhitaryan stayed tight with Kolarov on the wing, whilst Shaw pushed up a few metres on his wing, putting him within pressing distance of Sagna. From goal-kicks, when Bravo couldn’t move with the ball, this made it almost impossible City to play out through their first line, as well as it being extremely difficult for Bravo play into the second line without lobbing the ball. Realising they weren’t going to be able to play out from the back, City used vertical movements both towards and away from their own goal in order to stretch United’s vertical compactness and create space behind United’s first line of pressure. David Silva often dropped very deep into the left halfspace, sometimes even just a few yards ahead of Fernandinho, which dragged Fellaini a lot higher than he would have liked to have been. De Bruyne would move onto the last line alongside Iheanacho, where the pair would gamble off of one another’s flick-on headers, where City’s goal actually came from. By moving onto the last line, Pogba was pulled extremely deep, which often created huge spaces in between the first line of pressure and the defensive block. Bravo’s superb technical skills allowed him to drop chipped passes into the halfspaces for Sagna and Kolarov to attack, in battles against Shaw and Mkhitaryan, which they were likely to win. 

This high pressure in the initial phase of opposition build-up was something we seen Mourinho deploy in his final El Classico meeting with Guardiola. 
Another Full-Back Variation

In a game, particularly first half, of Manchester City dominance, one of the only areas United looked to have any sort of focus on controlling was their defence to attack transition. With Guardiola’s positional play being attack-orientated during his tenure at City so far, he decided alterations would need to be made, in order to nullify the counter-attacking threat of a Mourinho team. With Zabaleta and Clichy dropped for Sagna and Kolarov, this suggested before the game that the movement of the full-backs would perhaps be something to do with the his.

In early games of the season, we seen inverted movements from City’s full-backs primarily in a bid to improve connectivity and create dangerous situations on either wing. Today, we saw IFB’s again, though not for the same purpose. As the ball moved out to either Sterling or Nolito, rather than making a supporting movement towards the ball, Sagna and Kolarov pinched inside into their respective halfspaces.

 Creating a narrow 2-3 defensive block, this prevented United from countering through the halfspaces, the areas where Mkhitaryan and Rooney are so good at counter-attacking through.
Dominance Through Juego de Posición 

Though they had some difficulties in progressing cleanly from phase one, Guardiola’s Man City had no problems in dominating the match in the following phases of possession through strong use of positional play.
The dynamics through the centre from City were excellent and very effective in manipulating the low-mid block of United. The rotation of John Stones and Fernandinho made it difficult for Rooney and Ibrahimovic to effectively block or mark the pair as the movements were quick and difficult to track. Stones movements into the 6 position allowed for Fernandinho to drop even deeper than usual and Otamendi to split even wider, creating more space centrally. 

Spanish midfield magician David Silva excelled throughout the match, his dropping movements allowing him to dictate from deep momentarily, in a role he has never taken so much responsibility in before. His midfield partner Kevin de Bruyne often made alternate movements with Iheanacho, with one of them making a stretching vertical movement, whilst the other searched for an open passing lane from deep.

The positional play during ball circulation was excellent. Rather than horizontally circulating, increasing the possibility a non-penetrative U shape, City often used the dropping movements and overloads in behind United’s first line to recycle centrally and open play up through the opposite centre-back. From here, the receiver was usually the free-man and with the help of some movement from the ball-near interior, a dribbling lane was often opened up for them to drive forward into midfield. As this occurred, central players around the ball would make supporting movements to prevent isolation in the centre of the field, which was often successful and allowed them to combine in an area now of numerical superiority and escape the press into a now underloaded area of the field.
Conclusion

Coming out on top as deserved 2-1 winners, despite a nervy ending, Guardiola’s side’s dominance against such strong opposition pleasantly surprised many. Though City have been performing at a very high level so far this season, perhaps none have topped such a dominant performance against truly challenging opposition in Manchester United. Mourinho will be disappointed not just his side’s relatively poor performance, both in terms of dynamics with the ball and lack of intensity in a City’s later phases, but also with the result, which he will no doubt see as three points dropped in the title race.