The ‘Guardiola’ effect on City’s defensive shape
So much has been talked about Man City and their defensive issues over the last few years, and we’ve seen Mancini and Pellegrini make countless attempts to salvage their situation. But it appears that Guardiola’s arrival has effectively put the issue to bed. Stones and Otamendi have both been employed in a high-defensive line, which allowed Claudio Bravo to be an unorthodox sweeper at the back. This effectively forced United to be a lot deeper – Ibrahimovic’s lack of pace didn’t do them any favours as well. With United struggling to pose any sort of threat going forward, City capitalized and ran completely riot in the first 45 minutes.
‘Rooney vs Pogba’ conundrum
We’re one month into the new season, and Wayne Rooney continues to look sub-par, even within that No. 10 role that’s been given to him. But he continuous ability to command a starting spot is starting to raise eyebrows, especially when it comes at the expense of Paul Pogba being able to play in his best position. Pogba is a box-to-box guy, who requires freedom to move about in midfield. But with Rooney taking that coveted slot, Pogba has been pushed a lot deeper on the pitch. And as they say, there’s no point in buying Ferrari F-50, if you’re going to drive it at 35 km/h. You’ve brought in an artist, Jose. Now let him paint.
Fellaini is running out of magic dust
Sure, we all bought Mourinho’s constant praise of Marouane Fellaini last month. In three games against three average opposition teams, Fellaini looked dominant. Put him up against a David Silva-Kevin De Bruyne combo and the Belgian gets completely outclassed. He huffed and puffed for 90 minutes, and probably did cover a lot of ground. Unfortunately, City’s stars never found it difficult to get past him in midfield. Worse part? He barely offered anything going forward as well, given the aerial advantage he possessed over every other player on the pitch. There was a point in the second half, when Fernando climbed over him to win a header – that sums it up, doesn’t it?
How is Claudio Bravo an upgrade?
The Manchester derby is never an easy fixture to make your debut in, but if you’re going to play for Manchester City, you’ve got to be able to deal with pressure. After tonight’s affair, you can understand why Man City fans are standing behind Joe Hart. Bravo was snapped up to replace Hart, as he is allegedly better with the ball at his feet, and is an excellent shot stopper, as well. Problem is, we saw none of that today. Bravo was a bundle of nerves throughout the 90 minutes – some would even say he was lucky to stay on the pitch, after a horrendous two-footed tackle on Wayne Rooney. In fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to blame him for United’s only goal of the game. #BringBackJoeHart anyone?
Fernandinho – Is he City’s most important player?
It’s easy to be mesmerized by Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva’s attacking magic, but City’s dominance at Old Trafford is due in no small part to Fernandinho’s role in their midfield set-up. In a brilliant Sky Sports interview earlier this week, Xabi Alonso revealed how Guardiola loves to play with one defensive pivot, who is capable of evolving into a de-facto third center-back when required. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, Fernandinho seems to be that guy. Every time he dropped deep, it allowed City’s full-backs a bit more freedom to push United’s flankers back – which suffocated Mkhitaryan and Lingard in the first half. Alternatively, he was also key in destroying United’s countless attempts of finding space through the middle. Rooney struggled in the ‘hole’ and when he made way for Pogba in the second half, the Frenchman did not better. Terrific performance from the Brazilian.
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