Manchester City’s Latest Tactical Tweak Proved to be Ineffective

Manchester City drew goalless with Arsenal in a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium in a recent Premier League clash. The Cityzens are in the third place in the league table with 70 points from 31 matches after a 4-1 win over Aston Villa and a 4-2 defeat of Crystal Palace in the subsequent matches.

Manchester City dominated ball-possession with 73% of it in the match against Arsenal, but were not able to score against the dour Gunners, who kept defending deep with exemplary resolve.

Manchester City Had Another Tactical Tweak on the Day

The match involved yet another tactical tweak from Pep Guardiola. They started the match with a 4-2-3-1, with two centre-backs, Manuel Akanji and Joško Gvardiol, starting as the right-back and left-back, respectively.
However, as Nathan Aké got injured and was replaced by Rico Lewis, Guardiola made a tweak in the formation.
Mateo Kovačić, starting in the place of an injured John Stones, started playing as the left-sided centre-back in a back three also having Akanji and Rúben Dias. Rico Lewis and Gvardiol played as the two wing-backs in Manchester City’s 3-4-3, with Lewis moving into central areas at times. Kovačić’s presence in the defensive third helped the Cityzens deal with the Gunners’ counter-attacking threat.
There was almost always an extra man in the Cityzens’ defence, which meant that the Gunners could not threaten much through their counters.
However, it affected the Cityzens’ attacking prowess. They found it difficult to break open Arsenal’s defence despite the fact that thr majority of the match was played in the Gunners’ half.
Neither of the wing-backs did enough in the wide areas, as the Cityzens reverted back to a back-four by replacing Kovačić and Phil Foden with Jérémy Doku and Jack Grealish, respectively. Bernardo Silva, who started as the right winger, started playing as a central midfielder.
With Kevin de Bruyne being forced to shift to the right flank at times to add width to City’s attack, they needed a midfielder in the central areas to fill in for him. Kovačić playing as a centre-back defeated that purpose.
However, despite making the changes, the Cityzens still failed to break the deadlock and had to share points with the Gunners. Erling Haaland hardly made his presence felt and Foden was surprisingly ineffective against the formidable defence of Arsenal.
However, in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid, which ended in a 3-3 draw last Tuesday, Kovačić played as a holding midfielder alongside Rodri, as a sick de Bruyne did not start.

The Cityzens Have a Few Potentially Tough Matches Ahead

The Cityzens will face West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur in their next two matches.
Those are both potential banana skins, which Pep Guardiola’s team should be wary of. Ideally, they should want to win each of those matches, but even if that is not possible, they should want to earn at least four points from those matches.
However, Guardiola’s men are proven winners and will still remain the favourites to win their fifth title in six years. Both Liverpool and Arsenal are only a point ahead of them and either of them can falter at any time. The Cityzens will have to keep winning their own matches to keep the pressure on the top two teams.

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