Tactically Speaking – Manchester City

An in-depth analysis of how Manchester City could approach Saturday's teatime clash at the Etihad Stadium - with WhoScored.com
Manchester City have carried all before them in the Barclays Premier League so far this season, winning all five matches and scoring eleven goals in the process.

Now in his third season in charge, Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini has his expensively-assembled team playing some dominant, entertaining and flowing football – on the domestic stage, at least.

While City have consistently underwhelmed in the UEFA Champions League in recent campaigns, losing at home to Juventus on Tuesday evening, Pellegrini’s side are firing on all cylinders in the Premier League.

As he has done regularly during his reign, Pellegrini has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, with attack-minded full-backs, two dynamic central midfield players and three interchanging attackers behind a centre forward.

Style-wise, City like to control the game in the opposition’s half, especially on home turf at their recently-expanded Etihad Stadium.

To do this, not only do City press high, but when they have the ball, they keep it. On average, City have the ball 56 per cent of the time, no doubt because they pass the ball short 87 per cent of the time, and complete the same percentage of passes overall.

It is all well and good passing the ball, but you must do something with it, you might ask? Well, City certainly do that, unleashing 18.6 shots per game on average.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing for City fans has been the sight of some of their tried and tested players returning to their best form.

At 32, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is showing no signs of slowing down, completing 91.4 per cent of his passes, scoring a goal, creating three more and illustrating his full range of attacking and defensive talents.

At left-back, Serbian Aleksandar Kolarov is another veteran who is back to his best, working his way up and down the wing, and putting in devilish crosses and set pieces. It should come as no surprise that 41 per cent of City’s attacks have been launched down the left, against 34 per cent down the right flank.
In attacking areas, City really do have an embarrassment of riches.

The elusive, skilful Spaniard David Silva has been at his best in recent weeks, scoring once and creating four assists, while Raheem Sterling has shown glimpses of the reason why City spent a reported £49m to bring him down the M62 from Liverpool.

Belgian Kevin De Bruyne was another expensive summer recruit and will be eager to show what he can do if he is given a chance on Saturday.

Perhaps City’s only discernable weakness is at the centre of their defence, where individual errors and the potential absence of captain Vincent Kompany could open up opportunities for the Hammers to exploit.

Pellegrini has revealed that Kompany will be absent after being injured in the midweek defeat by Juventus, allowing experienced Argentina defender Martin Demichelis to start alongside the improving Frenchman Elaquim Mangala.

Possible team: Hart, Sagna, Kolarov, Demichelis, Mangala, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, Sterling, Aguero