The Breakdown: Man City preview

We return to Premier League action against Manchester City on Sunday, and ahead of the game Michael Cox and Adrian Clarke assess our opponents.

Check out more ahead of the weekend's match:



MC: Pep Guardiola hasn’t quite overseen the tactical revolution many expected when he took charge last summer, but Manchester City are nevertheless a flexible, intelligent and cohesive side capable of starving the opposition of possession and playing brilliant passing combinations in the final third.

After six titles in seven seasons with Barcelona and Bayern, it will take something extraordinary for Pep to extend that run to seven in eight this season – but on their day, City play fantastic football.



MC: Guardiola has generally played Fernandinho as his sole holding midfielder, but has sometimes beefed up that zone with Yaya Toure too. However, Guardiola’s first-choice system involves both David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the midfield trio. At the start of the season they both pushed forward from a 4-3-3 system, leaving Fernandinho on his own, although Guardiola has recently experimented with a 4-2-3-1 system, moving either Silva or De Bruyne deep to help control play, and pushing the other into the final third.

That’s prompted significant improvements in the second half at Monaco and Liverpool – even if City didn’t actual win either of those games – and Guardiola may start with the 4-2-3-1 here.



MC: Guardiola likes his wide players to stretch the play, only coming inside at the last minute. Leroy Sane has been in fine form, usually starting from the left, and his battle against Hector Bellerin will be a sensational demonstration of speed.

Raheem Sterling is likely to play from the opposite side, and is more involved in build-up play, although has often been hesitant in goalscoring positions this season.


MC: Sergio Aguero still spearheads the side, running in behind the opposition defence rather than contributing significantly in deeper positions. City boast incredible pace in the final third, and Arsenal might feel the need to sit a little deeper than usual.
AC: They’ve got De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane and the aforementioned Aguero all in superb form. De Bruyne produced a great assist last time out, so I can see goals in this game. I can see more goals in this than the FA Cup semi-final anyway.


MC: City have often had problems with the less glamorous side of Premier League matches, and have defended corners and set-pieces particularly poorly. Meanwhile, Guardiola has often asked his full backs to make extremely unusual movements in possession, drifting into midfield roles rather than overlapping. None of his full-backs look entirely comfortable in this system.
AC: It’s a really different Manchester City at the moment. It’s younger - he’s freshened up the team with more legs, which was desperately needed. They were an ageing side going nowhere before he arrived. They’ve been a joy to watch going forward but without the ball, I think they’ve got so far to go under Pep Guardiola. I think if you can get at their defence, you can score goals against them. They leak goals and I think they have a lot of fragility without the ball. It’s down to Arsenal to get into the areas of the pitch where they can hurt City.
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