Bolton v Man City | Winger Comparison

Bolton v Man City | Winger Comparison

We may be just a single game into the 2011/12 season yet this has not stopped some billing Sunday’s clash at The Reebox as a ‘top of the table’ one.

Both Bolton and Manchester City are of course perched first and second in the table by virtue of impressive 4-0 victories over promoted sides QPR and Swansea respectively, and will go into the game full of confidence.

Historically, City have not fared well at the Reebok, at times struggling for goals, yet triumphed on the final day of last season and will look to their attacking threat (likely to include new boy Sergio Aguero) to come away with the win. Bolton’s hopes too will rest on whether or not their attack can breach City’s defence – tied first in 2010/11 in terms of goals conceded.

A look at the make-up of both sides shows that whilst both play with wide men, their roles and contribution are much different.

For Bolton, they are likely to line-up with Martin Petrov (formerly of City) and new-signing Chris Eagles and against Swansea City deployed Adam Johnson and David Silva flanking the central trio of Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure.

What the figures from the opening weekend games show us is that the Petrov/Eagles duo are far more the ‘traditional’ winger – remaining out wide on the one wing and looking to beat the full-back, with Silva/Johnson the more modern ‘inside-out’ winger, cutting in from the wing, interchanging with one another and providing more support to the lone striker, whereas Bolton’s pairing of Klasnic and Davies are used more as a target than Edin Dzeko was:

David Silva Adam Johnson Martin Petrov Chris Eagles
Shots 4 1 3 1
Passes 45/49 26/29 33/42 28/39
Passing % 92% 90% 79% 72%
Thorugh-balls 0/2 0/1 0/0 0/0
Crosses 0/2 1/5 2/4 1/1
Assists 0 0 0 1
Goals 1 0 0 0
Chances 4 5 4 0
Possession duels 4/10 4/9 1/3 7/13
Successful dribbles 2 3 0 3
Turnovers 2 0 3 2
Dispossed 2 2 1 2

A couple of areas stand out in particular with the numbers:

  • City attempt far more passes and have a higher passing %
  • Bolton’s wide men didn’t attempt a single through ball – indicating they do not venture into the middle as much as City’s
  • City’s wide men are more likely to create chances
  • The figures (perhaps surprisingly) show the number of crosses attempted as fairly equal
  • Bolton’s wide men are more likely to lose possession

The Guardian heatmaps (Eagles/Petrov and Silva/Johnson) also reflect the different nature of their play, with Eagles and Petrov far likelier to stick to their respective wings with Silva and Johnson’s passing positions far more evenly spread across the pitch.

This is also reflected by the overall team attacking areas that show City’s as more balanced and shows City’s penchance for a more narrow area in terms of attack:

Manchester City Bolton
Right 33% 43%
Central 36% 23%
Left 32% 34%

Whilst both sides will be dislodged at the top of the table by the time they kick-off on Sunday, both know that a victory could see them take top spot back.

Both also know that in order to emerge with the points that much will rest on the performances and threat – however different this may be – of the wide men.