HomeZ OLD CATEGORIESEPLIndex Tactical ReportManchester City 2-0 Hull City | Tactical Analysis

Manchester City 2-0 Hull City | Tactical Analysis

Man City started the game with a 4-4-2 variant. Lescott moved to right sided centre back, despite being left footed, with Garcia making way for Nastasic. Kolarov played at left back in place of Gael Clichy. Other that it was the same line up as against Cardiff.

Hull meanwhile started in a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 system that changed to 4-4-2 in defence. There was one change from their game against Norwich, with Danny Graham coming in for the suspended Sagbo.

Man City v Hull

The pattern of the first half was a strange one. Man City’s system struggled, Hull were playing well enough to use that and cause problems.

Manchester City’s system

Under Pellegrini, Yaya Toure has played as a deep orchestrator in City’s system. In the first two games of the season, he made over 100 passes from there. What this means though is that City lose some of the vertical thrust he brings when he has the freedom to make forward runs into space, especially on the counter attack. This is a trade off Pellegrini has made within City’s system.

What was interesting here was that Toure attempted only 60 passes in the match. Hull, playing a 4-4-2 in defence, shut him out pretty well through the strikers and he was having to drop very deep between the centre backs to receive the ball. This meant he was generally unable to influence the game with his offensive qualities and led to a slightly ‘broken’ system.

This made it difficult for City to create chances. They were often looking to play off Dzeko on the first ball, playing it forward to him, generally in the air, and then building from there. Dzeko won 50% of his aerial duels, showing the inconsistency of this approach. Elsewhere Navas was playing as a right winger but failing to have an impact, not taking on the full back in 1v1 situations and not getting to the byline. Silva meanwhile was drifting inside from the left and trying to get on the ball but again not dictating attacks in the way he did at his and City’s best under Roberto Mancini.

In fact City’s main success in creating chances came from set pieces. Both Dzeko and Lescott had chances early on from corners but didn’t score.

The other failing of City’s was defensively, especially on transition. Defensive transitions were often the main problem for Mancini – the positional mobility of the attacking players often left spaces on the counter, one of the reasons for City’s continual poor showing in the Champions League.

In this game there were two specific reasons for this. First of all, Silva’s position in attack meant there was often space for the right back Elmohamady on the transition when Hull regained the ball (City were sloppy in possession, especially early on). Interestingly, while it is usually the centre backs or deep midfielders who make the most passes within a game, the player with the most passes for Hull was Elmohamady. This showed how Hull used the space in this area when they regained possession and how they counter attacked from there.

The second reason for City’s poor transition was that Toure and Fernandinho were lazy in getting back into position or were too focused on pressuring at points where they should have been recovering. City were very poor in recovering shape once they had lost the ball, which left more pressure on the centre backs and was the reason why Hull had good early chances, one sitter through Aluko which he miskicked wide and the other, an offside goal from Graham.

This second opportunity highlighted City’s problems in transition.

Silva inside during attack, goes to pressure the ball, leaving space on the right for Hull on transition
Silva inside during attack, goes to pressure the ball, leaving space on the right for Hull on transition

Toure and Fernandinho out of position as play switches to the right
Toure and Fernandinho out of position as play switches to the right
Toure still out of position as the attack progresses. Nastasic has to engage, leaving Lescott in a 1v1 situation. Attack was switched to the left and crossed in to Graham who scored but was offside
Toure still out of position as the attack progresses. Nastasic has to engage, leaving Lescott in a 1v1 situation. Attack was switched to the left and crossed in to Graham who scored but was offside

Hull, it has to be said, were impressively composed in possession for a lot of the game. Considering the skill-set of their forwards (Graham is known more for his physical assets than his technical ones and Aluko relies more on his pace and runs rather than actually playing as a number ten behind the forward) they could have been tempted to make a big physical battle of it, playing every second ball long and fighting for it that way. In fact they often played the ball out short when they regained it, even in their own third. Admittedly, a lot of their attacks either came through countering or through playing it long to Graham in the air (who only won a disappointing 38% of his aerial duels) but they knew they were not going to win the game by direct play alone. This composure in possession allowed them to use the spaces City left in their block, even if they didn’t have the necessary quality to really take advantage.

Neither team were that good defensively. The balance between the lines was not right for either side and Hull’s ability to shut out chances was mainly down to their narrowness and City’s problems within their system rather than a genuinely compact and proactively organised block.

Second half

Considering City’s poor showing in the first half, Pellegrini made a substitution, bringing on Alvaro Negredo for Edin Dzeko. This was a promising move; Negredo’s movement is one of the main areas he is better than Dzeko and he  was also more willing to move between the lines to link play.

The other small tactical switch from Pellegrini was giving Silva more liberty of movement to use the space inside Hull’s defensive block. The home side started the second half with more fluidity – Silva was dictating play more, Negredo was dropping off Aguero centrally to receive but also making runs in depth. Navas was also moving inside and across more.

The tactical switch created an early chance for Negredo; Silva found him over the top with a lovely diagonal pass and Negredo, making a clever run in the inside left channel, unfortunately got a poor connection to it. This however was an illustration that City were improving.

It didn’t alter their defensive problems though. They were still making individual errors at the back because of the pressure caused from poor transition play in midfield and Graham had a shot that went over and then was inches away from connecting with a cross after City again were forced to lose their shape at the back.

Just under twenty minutes into the second half though, City got their goal, with Negredo making another run in the inside left channel and connecting to a great cross from Zabaleta.

Even with the lead, City were sloppy. The game became more scrappy and there were a lot of transitions with neither team really in control. Pellegrini brought on Milner for Aguero but strangely did not move him back into midfield where City weren’t controlling space effectively, instead playing him on the left, and moving Nasri inside. Hull continued to create half chances and little situations without really creating a clear opportunity, though again this was down to a lack of quality on their part rather than good defending on City’s part. Toure’s free kick late on sealed the win for Pellegrini’s side but they were hardly dominating or controlling proceedings in the way of title challengers.


Man City had numerous tactical problems during the match – poor defensive transitions, minimal control of space through the middle, a flawed system in attack. Hull played well; specific mentions have to go to Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone. However their lack of quality personnel compared to City ultimately made the difference in the match. Despite that, it is Hull who have the most positives to take from this. Pellegrini’s side have plenty to improve on.

Jonny Mullins
Jonny Mullinshttp://lankyguyblog.blogspot.com
I am a 18 year old with a massive interested in football and tactics
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