With Manchester City starting the season in such attacking fashion, it was inevitable that once teams had gotten wise to this approach that they would look for ways to counter this offensive threat.
We saw with Everton’s approach a couple of weeks ago that they were content to get men behind them, frustrate City’s attacking instincts and look to stifle any opportunity where City looked to create. As the season progresses this may well become the blueprint adopted by sides who primary mission is to snuff out City’s potency.
This approach was one that was adopted byBlackburn– despite them being the home side – last Saturday, and for the first hour of the game worked pretty much to the letter as City struggled to break down a resilient defence. However, this City side possesses attacking threat both in numbers and variety – perhaps in contrast to last season where the attack at times had a one-dimensional feel and focussed so much around Carlos Tevez.
One area where City are generally superior in during games this season is in terms of both touches of the ball and passes attempted. These two stats are all well and good, but don’t necessarily tell the full story. Digging a little deeper however illustrates that where City are particularly dominant is in the key areas on the pitch:
What the above numbers show is that despiteBlackburn’s attempts to negate the attacking elements of City’s game, they were unable to restrict City’s territorial advantage.
As we can see, both in terms of the opposition half and opposition third, City attempted a high number of passes, but what was important (and contrast this to Blackburn’s struggles in these areas) were the completion rates of 81% and 80% respectively – way ahead of what Blackburn could muster.
Delving a little deeper into the numbers also highlights quite how well City are able to mix things up in terms of the passing game. With players such as Adam Johnson and marauding full-backs to call upon, City can utilise the long ball (72% success rate compared to Blackburn’s 21%), spread the ball out wide (around three times as many passes to the wings that Blackburn made) and, importantly if the areas around the box are congested, successfully convert crosses (a figure of 23% something that was also highlighted in this post on EPL Index).
In each of their Premier League games this season City have managed to score at least two goals and post an impressive conversion rate and in doing so illustrating how they are benefitting from adding variety as well as quality to their ranks. Teams may well look to frustrate and deny City but at this early stage of the season at least, the numbers are beginning to back up the view that they have the necessary firepower to overcome sides.