Man City 2 – 0 Bolton | Full-backs analysis | EPL Opta Stats

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With Micah Richards already ruled out through injury, when Pablo Zabaleta limped off after a mere twenty-minutes against Bolton on Saturday Roberto Mancini was forced into calling upon Kolo Toure as an emergency right-back.

Toure, who has barely featured for City in 2012 so far through a combination of the form of the Vincent Kompany-Joleon Lescott partnership and his participation in the African Cup of Nations, barely missed a step though in what was a fairly unfamiliar position as City eased to a 2-0 victory at The Etihad Stadium.

What may seem a relatively minor change to City side packed with attacking threat and options was actually a key one in terms of the make-up of City’s play, in so far as utilising the full-back position and allows them the freedom and licence to be heavily involved in the attacking game from a sense of targeting the areas between the opposition full-backs and centre-backs. Evidence of this is in the fact that prior to the Bolton games, City had scored 18 of their 49 open play goals from crosses or cut backs: some 36% of all goals which emphasises the importance of their wide play.

Despite playing for only seventy minutes of the game, Toure’s involvement alongside Gael Clichy (starting at left back) was telling. Toure’s passing numbers were impressive, completing 29 of 32 in total but key was his completing 14 from 16 in the final third including 3 final third entries (i.e. Bolton’s defensive zone) – fourth most (behind Yaya Toure 23, Gareth Barry 17 and Adam Johnson 16) in City’s side in total and ahead of players such as Samir Nasri, David Pizarro and Mario Balotelli:

Page 2: Clichy statistics…

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