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Wednesday 30 April 2014

BU21PL profile: Viera's Man City 'guarantee goals'

A profile of Manchester City's Elite Development Squad ahead of Thursday's semi-final v Chelsea

  • City's Marcos Lopes has made four first-team appearances this season. Photo c/o MCFC

  • Jordy Hiwula finds the net in the Under-21 Premier League Cup semi-final against Burnley

  • Denayer is a stylish defender who is comfortable on the ball. Photo c/o MCFC

  • Vieira cited defeat by Spurs as the catalyst for his side's late-season charge. Photo c/o MCFC

  • City will donate proceeds from the match to Teenage Cancer Trust to back Stephen's Story

Manchester City

Ahead of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League play-off semi-final between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening, Mark Booth, from City's website, profiles Patrick Vieira's team who were last to qualify.

BU21PL leading scorers
12 Jordy Hiwula
7 Devante Cole
6 Marcos Lopes, Seko Fofana

BU21PL leading appearances
21 Jordy Hiwula
20 Sinan Bytyqi, Seko Fofana
19 Ian Lawlor
18 Shay Facey

Usual formation

Usual style of play
Those familiar with City's first-team's style of play will find the Under-21s' approach immediately recognisable. Free-flowing attacking football with incisive approach play, overlapping full-backs and high-intensity pressing is the fulcrum of Vieira's philosophy.

Team's strengths
Only Liverpool scored more goals than the Blues in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League regular season, which shows how creative they are in front of goal. A quick scan down City's results from the season tells you that they have not been involved in a goalless draw and not one of their 11 wins arrived by way of a 1-0 scoreline.

Team's weakness
Sometimes the team could be more clinical and take better advantage of their territorial domination.

Manchester City head of Elite Development Squad: Patrick Vieira
Vieira was named Head of the EDS on 1 June 2013, after two years as City's Football Development Executive. Vieira's playing career earned him silverware in England and Italy, including three Barclays Premier League titles with Arsenal and four FA Cup victories with Arsenal (three) and City (one). His 107 caps for France include winning performances in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2000 UEFA European Championships. In December 2013, Vieira led Man City's Under-19s through to the last 16 of a major continental competition for the first time, claiming 11 points from UEFA Youth League Group D.

Three key players

Jason Denayer (18, defender)
The Belgian centre-back joined in the summer but has established himself as one of the key members of the side. A hulking, athletic but graceful defender, the 18-year old is an excellent reader of the game and often involved in launching City's attacks, stepping forward from the back to lend an extra man to the midfield. Denayer scored his only goal for the Blues in the 6-0 win over Bayern Munich in this year's UEFA Youth League.

Marcos Lopes (18, midfielder)
A Portugal Under-21 international Lopes became the club's youngest goalscorer when he netted the third in City's 3-0 FA Cup third-round win over Watford in January 2013. Since then, the Brazil-born playmaker has made four further first-team appearances, which include a man-of-the-match-winning performance against West Ham United in the Capital One Cup semi-final, second leg. "Rony" captains the Elite Development Squad and has made 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring 13 goals, including the first against Aston Villa on the final day which helped clinch City's play-off berth.

Jordy Hiwula (19, forward)
Hiwula had consistently been top scorer right through the age groups at City until a serious knee injury ruled him out for most of last season. Now fit again, it is as though he has never been away and the 18-year-old has been banging them in again in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League this term. The Manchester-born striker is the joint-leading scorer in the competition with 12 goals from his 21 appearances.

2013/14 BU21PL match to remember
Although it was a match that City ended up losing 6-3, Vieira cited the trip to Tottenham Hotspur as the key match of the campaign so far in an interview with the club's website. The Frenchman was delighted with the manner of the team's performance against an experienced Spurs side that included first-team regulars Sandro, Andros Townsend and Nabil Bentaleb. City went on an excellent run thereafter, losing just twice in their next 13 games, putting them in contention for the play-off place they secured on the final day.

Players to have featured for first team this season
Marcos Lopes (three appearances in Capital One Cup; one in FA Cup)
Emyr Huws (one appearance in FA Cup)

Match details
Tickets for Thursday night's match at Etihad Stadium are £3 for adults, £1 for concessions and free for Seasoncard holders.

Man City have said that all proceeds from the match will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust in support of Stephen's Story. #StephensStory is the creation of the 19-year old Stephen Sutton, who had bowel cancer diagnosed at 15. This prompted Sutton to begin a quest to raise £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust. Sutton's messages on Facebook and Twitter were shared widely, gaining support from celebrities include players Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasic, as well as stand-up comic and City supporter Jason Manford. Sutton recently smashed through his revised £1m target, hitting £3m in the last week.

"Stephen’s Story has captured the hearts of everyone at Manchester City Football Club," said Vieira. "The coaches and EDS players are honoured to be involved with Teenage Cancer Trust, particularly for such an important game. We hope that that we, together with staff, fans and supporters of Stephen's Story, can make Thursday a really special event and raise valuable funds for the campaign."

You can donate to Stephen’s Story by visiting his Just Giving page here >> or you can donate £5 by texting STEPHEN to 70500. You can keep up to date with Stephen’s progress on Twitter at @_StephensStory.

Previous BU21PL meeting this season
6 October

Chelsea (Swift, Christensen) 2-1 Man City (Hiwula)

Barclays Under-21 Premier League semi-finals
Manchester City v Chelsea, 7.15pm, Etihad Stadium (live on Sky Sports)
Liverpool v Manchester United, 7.45pm, Anfield (live on BT Sport)

Final Barclays Under-21 Premier League table (top)

  P W D L GD Pts
21 13 5 3 23 44
21 13 3 5 25 42
Man Utd
21 11 6 4 16 39
Man City
21 12
22 38

Find out the full Barclays U21 Premier League fixture list here and view the table here.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

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Key Points

  • Barclays Under-21 Premier League play-off semi-finalists Manchester City in profile
  • Patrick Vieira's team take on Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night
  • All proceeds from match are being donated to Teenage Cancer Trust