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Talking Tactics

Rotating attack no barrier to City's winning formula

Adrian Clarke 4 Mar 2021

Adrian Clarke explains why the leaders' threat remains the same despite constant tinkering

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 27.

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One of the most remarkable aspects of Manchester City’s 15-match Premier League winning run is the way Pep Guardiola has successfully rotated his forwards.

When picking his last 13 starting line-ups, Guardiola has made at least one change to his front five.

Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden have combined to produce 18 direct goal involvements between them in that time, with 11 goals and seven assists.

Yet none of the trio has featured for more than 55 per cent of the total time played.

City forwards during 15-match run
2 Silva Gundogan Foden Mahrez Sterling
2 Silva Gundogan Foden De Bruyne Sterling
2 Silva Gundogan Foden De Bruyne Sterling
1 Nine other front-five configurations

A look at City's 4-3-3 formation shows an incredibly fluid selection policy at the top end of the pitch, with Guardiola using 12 unique front-five configurations.

In spite of the changes, City have shown they are able to consistently deliver top-class performances.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not be able to confidently predict the City XI his team will face on Sunday.

City highlights v Wolves

City defend brilliantly from the front, ranking second behind Liverpool for high turnovers in 2020/21.

Foden, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan have led the way, making over five ball recoveries per 90 minutes during their winning run.

Sergio Aguero, who has played for just 78 minutes of the streak, is the only forward who has not delivered at least one goal and assist for City.

City's stars during 15-match winning run
Shots/90 Mins/goal
De Bruyne 3.53 Gundogan 108
Gabriel Jesus 2.76 Gabriel Jesus 172
Gundogan 2.58 Sterling 177
Open-play chances created/90 Mins/assist
Foden 2.23 De Bruyne 148
De Bruyne 2.19 Mahrez 243
Mahrez 1.48 Gabriel Jesus 343

Man Utd will head to the Etihad Stadium unbeaten away from home, having kept five clean sheets in their last seven matches on the road.

They have also been involved in goalless draws against Chelsea (twice), Liverpool, Arsenal and City already this season.

Solskjaer’s side will once again focus on keeping a compact shape, hoping to strike on the counter, but City’s multiple threats in attack will make this far from easy.

Will City set a new club record for matches without defeat in all competitions? Can Man Utd remain solid on their travels?

With every Manchester derby seemingly more significant than the last, this one looks set to be very intriguing indeed.

Also in this series 

Part 2: Leeds must stand up to West Ham's set-piece threat

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