Talking Tactics

Gundogan and Eriksen battle key to derby success

By Adrian Clarke 1 Oct 2022

Adrian Clarke says duel between Man City and Man Utd midfielders will be crucial to settling Sunday's match

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 9.

Ilkay Gundogan & Christian Eriksen

Gundogan and Eriksen will try to use their tactical intelligence and experience to decide Sunday's Manchester derby.

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This season, both are playing to the left of centre, inside Manchester City and Manchester United’s midfield respectively.

Gundogan and Eriksen are both capable of making the difference by producing an incisive through-ball, or with a telling run from deep. They are also in excellent form.

Gundogan is a goalscoring midfielder, netting 21 times in the Premier League across the previous two seasons.

He has two more to his name already this term, popping up in trademark fashion to score against AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United from inside the box.

Gundogan's goal v Newcastle

The 31-year-old is also an underrated creative influence for City.

Gundogan may not have topped four league assists in a top-flight season yet, but he has been outstanding when it comes to creating chances so far this term.

Chances created from open play 2022/23
Player Club Total per 90
Mohamed Salah LIV 4
Kevin De Bruyne MCI 2.83
Daniel Podence WOL 2.62
Ilkay Gundogan MCI 2.54
Gabriel Martinelli ARS 2.24

* Minimum four starts

Laying on 16 chances in open play from seven appearances, five of which were starts, the Germany international is among the division's leading creators.

Only three players, including City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, can better his ratio per 90 minutes.

Eriksen impact

Heading into the 2022/23 campaign there was uncertainty over where Eriksen would be used in Erik ten Hag’s starting XI, especially in a side containing Bruno Fernandes.

But those doubts have been quickly dispelled, with Eriksen establishing himself in a more orthodox central-midfield role alongside Scott McTominay.

Eriksen was exceptional in Man Utd's eye-catching 3-1 success against leaders Arsenal

Playing a decisive role in all three goals, his vision and execution of progressive passes stood out.

His awareness of space also shone through when he ran in behind a high Gunners backline to set up Marcus Rashford for the third goal.

Eriksen's creative influence 2022/23
Eriksen Total Club rank
Passes into box 33 1st
Succ. passes in opp. half 145 1st
Shots on target 6 1st
Ball recoveries 39 1st
Shots 12 2nd

Eriksen's experiences with Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan prepared him well for the mentality required to thrive under pressure at a club the size of United and he has settled quickly.

When in possession he brings an air of calm to his new side's play, and is happy to attempt brave forward passes. Eriksen has unquestionably improved United's build-up play.

Attacking verve

No-one has made more successful passes in the opposition half or fed a greater number of passes into the box than the Dane, who played so well for Brentford last term.

The 30-year-old has also shown the confidence to push on and try his luck with shots on goal; he leads United's rankings for shots on target.

Eriksen and Gundogan have shown great confidence and intelligence this season and it could well be the better schemer on the day who determines the winner of the derby.

Also in this series

Part 1: Chelsea set to benefit from Potter's flexible changes
Part 2: How O'Neil's changes have lifted AFC Bournemouth
Part 3: How Ten Hag's short-term planning has revived Man Utd
Part 4: Bowen and Antonio can provide missing spark for West Ham
Part 6: Xhaka relishing more freedom at Arsenal

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