Here are five observations I made on Manchester City’s buildup and attack in their opening-day Premier League match against West Ham. They went onto to win 5-0 with goals from Raheem Sterling (3), Gabriel Jesus (1) and Sergio Aguero (1).
- Zinchenko and Mahrez provided the width in attack in the early stages. Kyle Walker would tuck in to form a back 3 with Stones and Laporte when Zinchenko went forward. This is a typical attacking shape used by City to stretch the opposition horizontally to give the midfielders (Sterling, De Bruyne and Silva) space to combine and create opportunities.
- An alternative attacking shape used by City is accomplished by the two fullbacks tucking in alongside Rodri making a deep-lying midfield 3 which sits in front of the two centrebacks. This block of 5 is the base of their attack with Sterling and De Bruyne looking to create in the center, Silva and Mahrez holding the width and Jesus looking for the final ball. (see shape in pic below)
- Sterling is the most vertical of their midfielders consistently looking to get in behind the defense. He usually does this after playing a 1-2 with one of his midfield partners or Jesus. He also is more focused on receiving the final ball during counter-attacks on the right flank.
- Most of their play was down the left flank but they scored the opening goal with a switch to the right flank and Kyle Walker creating a 2v1 overload with Riyad Mahrez. This was one of Walker’s first overlapping runs in the game. He was awarded with the assist.
- To bypass the high press by West Ham’s center forward and attacking midfielder Ederson was often seen on the same line as Laporte and Stones thus creating a numerical advantage (3v2). This helped them get the ball into Rodri or a dropping attacker or advanced the ball higher up the field with minimal pressure on the passer.
Thank you for reading.