Arsenal today.
The home match was significant and unique from a tactical perspective 1/
The match was pre @city_tactics but was one of the most interesting of the season. City set up with Ake and Cancelo nominally as full backs and Walker and Dias at centre back.
Rodri and Bernardo in midfield supported Mahrez and Foden wide and Sterling playing off Aguero 2/
It was unique because we’ve not seen Walker line up nominally as a centre back before or since.
It was also one of only 2 PL starts for Aguero so far this season and Sterling has rarely played centrally since either 3/
However the most significant aspect of City’s set up that day was Joao Cancelo’s first start of the season. It was also the first time we saw him in the role he’s now become accustomed to. In possession he was pushed into midfield leaving a back 3 of Ake, Dias and Walker 4/
At the time it was unknown if this set up had been put in place solely to deal with Aubameyang.
It had been, that’s why Walker hasn’t played behind Cancelo since, but the shape at the back was a glimpse of the future 5/
We didn’t get there straight away, following the Spurs defeat City returned to conventional full backs and a double pivot to stop the rot 6/
But once the defence had tightened up in December, Pep began to release players. Gundogan was pushed forward and Cancelo went into his full back/midfielder hybrid role. They’ve been the two stand out performers since 7/
Expect to see this shape today. Management of minutes ahead of Europe midweek might determine if City push the left back or right back into midfield.
But don’t be surprised to see Walker deployed as part of the back 3 in possession to deal with Aubameyang’s pace on the break 8//

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More from @city_tactics

22 Feb
De Bruyne creating from False 9.
Opposition centre backs beware 1/ Image
When KDB plays False 9 he tends to be the F9 option who wanders furthest from the forward position for City. This can create problems for opposition centre backs who are being asked unusual new questions 2/
For this Sterling chance in the first half yesterday De Bruyne has moved into a left midfield position to receive the pass in space from Stones 3/ Image
Read 8 tweets
7 Feb
How Pep changed it to combat Alexander Arnold whilst breathing life into City’s attack 1/
Pep mentioned in his post match interview that he changed the formation at half time in part to combat the threat from Liverpool’s full backs. In a quiet first half Alexander Arnold looked like Liverpool’s main attacking weapon. Both full backs stayed wide and were given space 2/
Alexander Arnold set up a headed chance for Mane in the 25th min. Zinchenko challenges Salah for Henderson’s cross field pass. He can only head it on to Alexander Arnold who’s in space. No one else has picked him up and Zinchenko has a problem 3/
Read 12 tweets
7 Feb
The challenge Liverpool’s press could pose and how City might try to overcome it 1/
Many previous Liverpool vs City encounters have been noted for their frantic pace, often set by the pressing game of Liverpool’s front 3.
City’s current set up at the back in possession - in a 3, rather than the 4 - could be a big difference this time 2/
In previous seasons we’ve seen Liverpool’s front 3 press City’s backline with the support of the midfield and even the full backs. It’s made it very difficult for City to play out and has resulted in dangerous turnovers high up the pitch 3/
Read 12 tweets
5 Feb
7 key areas for City on Sunday 1/ Image
1. Defensive set up.
Walker at right back will indicate Pep wants pace at the back to deal with Liverpool’s threat.
Cancelo at right back is the more positive selection, it’s where he’s done the most damage in his more advanced hybrid role 2/
At left back - if we presume Cancelo starts at right back - Laporte is the more defensive option to try to deal with Salah’s threat.
Zinchenko probably offers more in possession moving forward and is possibly more press resistant 3/ Image
Read 13 tweets
14 Dec 20
Pep’s approach on Saturday bored a global audience to tears. Let’s look at:
Why he did it?
Why it worked?
And why we might have to get used to it?
A thread 1/
Pep sent Fernandinho and Rodri out in a double pivot. Since defeat at Spurs, when City set up in the traditional 4-3-3, Pep has deployed a double pivot for the last 6 matches. It stops the dm being isolated and subsequently the centre backs being exposed 2/
Pep set up like this in order to keep control. In the Spurs defeat and the derby defeats last season City lost control when the opposition countered. It was impossible to track runners on quick breaks with 1 dm and City were often all at sea 3/
Read 14 tweets
11 Dec 20
A few notes on the Manchester Derby 1/ Image
Never try to predict Pep’s team or approach - practically impossible. But here goes. Expect City to go with a double pivot of Rodri and Gundogan as detailed in previous threads 2/
With Dias and Stones/Laporte City are much better prepared to deal with United’s counters and set pieces which caused so many problems last season.
One or both of Fernandinho and Otamendi started all 4 derbies at centre back last term 3/
Read 13 tweets

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