Talking Tactics

Who will win game of cat and mouse between Adingra and Gvardiol?

By Adrian Clarke 23 Apr 2024
Gvardiol v Adingra

Adrian Clarke analyses a key duel as Brighton host title contenders Man City

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be influential in Matchweek 34.

Player analysis - Simon Adingra (Brighton) v Josko Gvardiol (Man City)

Manchester City have very few weaknesses, but fast ball-carriers have caused them some problems from turnovers and counter-attacks this season.

Looking at danger men in tonight’s crunch match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton & Hove Albion livewire Adingra feels like the type of player with potential to hurt the champions.

The 22-year-old winger’s numbers this season are relatively modest – six goals, one assist – but his pace and nimble footwork regularly catch the eye.

If Roberto De Zerbi’s side move the ball efficiently to him at speed, the tricky Ivory Coast international can give left-back Josko Gvardiol problems.

Providing an X-factor

Style-wise Adingra is the closest match to injured wide man Kaoru Mitoma.

Adingra usually plays off the right side instead of the left, but in Mitoma's continued absence Brighton rely on the youngster to travel with the ball, offering a dash of unpredictability and an X-factor.

Adingra ball-carrying v team-mates 2023/24
Dribbles attempted/90 Chance-creating ball carries  Ave. carry progress (m)
Mitoma 5.44 Mitoma 27 Mitoma 8.75
Adingra 5.43 Adingra 25 Adingra 6.12
Joao Pedro 4.06 Joao Pedro 25 Estupinan 6.05
Buonanotte 3.42 Gross 25 Joao Pedro 5.57

He can be raw at times, but Adingra has fast feet that help him skip inside or outside full-backs.

He is always looking to shoot or flash a cross along the face of goal from a dribble.

If the champions allow him to isolate Gvardiol or other defenders in 1v1s they could be in trouble.

Big-game player

While five of Adingra’s six Premier League goals have come against the current bottom three teams, he has shown glimpses of real promise in some of Brighton’s toughest fixtures.

He nipped in to intercept a loose pass when Liverpool tried to play out from the back against them at the AMEX, catching Alisson off-guard with a brilliant early strike.

The width he held in that match was eye-catching, and this is something City must be aware of.

Staying wide, stretching play, he is often the outlet for a Brighton switch pass.

From this run below, he forced a top save from Alisson in a 1v1.

Simon Adingra v Liverpool

On a difficult day for Brighton at home to Arsenal, in a 3-0 home defeat earlier this month, it was Adingra who had their brightest moments.

To help bypass Man City’s excellent press, do not be surprised to see Lewis Dunk aim long diagonals like the one below in the direction of Adingra.

This type of longer pass has created problems for Pep Guardiola’s side this season, so Brighton may test them with a series of angled balls aimed in behind full-backs.

From this switch of play, Adingra cut inside before firing a shot just over the bar.

Simon Adingra v Arsenal
Gvardiol is just as quick

Gvardiol, built like the central-defender he naturally is, may not revel in the prospect of marking a small, slippery player like Adingra.

But the Croatian will be more nervous about the African’s trickery than his pace.

Remarkably, Gvardiol's top speed is an exact equal of Adingra’s during the 2023/24 campaign, at 33.92km/h.

He is marginally quicker than City’s other full-back option Nathan Ake.

Adingra's speed v Man City left-backs 23/24
Player Top speed (km/h)
Adingra 33.92
Gvardiol  33.92
Ake 33.21
Gvardiol finding his feet

Earlier this season opponents seemed to target Gvardiol, who did not always exude confidence in a left-back slot.

In recent weeks though, he has visibly grown in confidence.

The former RB Leipzig man did a terrific job marshalling Bukayo Saka in the 0-0 draw at the Etihad Stadium, and he scored two lovely goals against Real Madrid and Luton Town.

Moving into forward areas with greater confidence, his attacking output has shown a marked improvement in 2024.

Gvardiol stats per 90 mins
Statistic 2023 2024
Succ. passes in opp. half 34.94 42.00
Total shots (inc. blocks)  0.82 2.15
Chances created (inc. assists) 0.67 0.92
Touches 86.03 97.23

This ambitious impetus from the City defender is great to see, but it may also encourage Brighton to risk leaving Adingra in more advanced areas waiting to pounce on transitions.

Will Gvardiol keep pushing on? Or will he be a little more circumspect in his decision-making if the winger does not always follow him?

Watching how their game of "cat and mouse" unfolds will be a tactical point of interest on Thursday night.

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