Tactically speaking - Manchester City

Tactically speaking

Manchester City

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how Manchester City might line up against West Ham United on Wednesday, as well as Manuel Pellegrini's side's strengths and weaknesses.

Possible starting XI


Zabaleta  Kompany  Lescott  Kolarov

Milner Toure  Fernandinho  Silva

Negredo  Dzeko

Put simply, Manchester City are a force to be reckoned with at their Etihad Stadium home. City have won 13 of their 14 home games in all competitions this season - only European champions Bayern Munich have won there - scoring 55 goals and conceding just 13.

In the Capital One Cup, City have played just once at home in their three ties so far, brushing aside Wigan Athletic 5-0 in the third round. Since then, Manuel Pellegrini's side have won 2-0 at Newcastle United and 3-1 at Leicester City to reach the semi-finals.

While many Barclays Premier League managers have chosen to make sweeping changes in this competition, Pellegrini has opted to field teams combining his regular Barclays Premier League starters and fringe players. That said, City's non-regulars are almost all full internationals!

Tactically, City favour a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation in the vast majority of their matches, but their Chilean manager has also used a more defensive 4-2-3-1 system on occasions. On home turf, it would be expected that the hosts will go with a four-man midfield and two central strikers in a bid to all but make the tie safe in the first leg.

An attractive side to watch, City play a short passing game and look to control possession in the opposition half before creating chances with through balls and crosses from their speedy wingers.

A list of City's strengths is a long one - creating and finishing chances, defending and attacking set pieces, wingplay and counter-attacking are all on there - making it very difficult for teams to get the better of them.

Personnel-wise, the free-scoring City will likely field England international Joe Hart in goal. Although he has had issues with concentration and saving long-range shots this season, Hart remains a fundamentally sound goalkeeper and his reflexes are as sharp as any stopper in the land.

Hart has been in and out of the team, however, and Romanian Costel Pantilimon could keep his place following Saturday's FA Cup draw at Blackburn Rovers. Taller than Hart, Pantilimon is arguably a very similar goalkeeper in that he is a fine shot-stopper who has a slight weakness when it comes to commanding his penalty area and catching high balls into the danger zone.

Right-back Pablo Zabaleta has very few weaknesses. An outstanding all-round defender, Zabaleta is strong in the tackle, composed in possession and supports the attack regularly. On the left, Serb Aleksandar Kolarov is two-footed, strong and attack-minded, as was illustrated by his goal against Leicester in the previous round and outstanding individual effort in the 3-2 Barclays Premier League win at Swansea City earlier this month.

In the centre, Vincent Kompany has long been considered the best centre-back in English football. The City captain has great positional sense, tackles strongly and fairly and can carry the ball out from the back with his feet. If he has any marginal weaknesses, it is in the air. Alongside him, experienced England international Joleon Lescott is another ball-playing defender. Left-sided, Lescott's technical ability has seen him play at left-back on occasions.

The midfield will be anchored by Yaya Toure. An outstanding performer, Toure is arguably the best all-round midfielder in the Barclays Premier League. While his passing, shooting and ability to run with the ball are all formidable, Toure can sometimes be found wanting in his defensive work. That is less of an issue because of the presence of Brazilian Fernandinho alongside him. A superb defensive midfielder, Fernandinho is a one-man shield capable of winning tackles and headers galore and making numerous vital interceptions.

In the wide areas, Spaniard Jesus Navas has started two of City's three Capital One Cup ties so far but has a knee injury and will miss out. His place is most likely to go to England international James Milner, a hard-working player who gets up and down the flank and possesses decent ability with either foot.

On the left, compatriot David Silva is an elusive, technically-gifted midfielder who can hurt teams in many ways. A fine passer and runner with the ball, Silva creates numerous chances for his team-mates with his vision and ability.

City are likely to go with two central strikers and, in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic, they are almost certain to be Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko. An all-round centre forward, Negredo has good technique, strength and movement and is capable of both running in behind and playing with his back to goal. Bosnia and Herzegovina star Dzeko is tall and strong and is never reluctant to let fly with a shot at goal, as he has proved by scoring in all three of City's Capital One Cup ties so far.

As for his other options, Pellegrini has plenty of players to pick from if he wants to rotate his squad. At the back, Serb youngster Matija Nastasic or Martin Demichelis could fill-in at centre-back, while experienced Frenchman Gael Clichy is an attack-minded left-back. In midfield, Javi Garcia is a defensive option if City go 4-2-3-1, while Samir Nasri offers an alternative in wide areas.