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Talking Tactics

Aguero and Jesus to strike up at Brighton?

Adrian Clarke 11 Aug 2017
Watford 0-5 Man City

Adrian Clarke examines the potential of Manchester City's strikers teaming up on Saturday

Ahead of each matchweek, tactics expert Adrian Clarke will preview three key areas where matches may be won and lost.  

Here he looks at a striking dilemma facing Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola.

Brighton v Man City

After claiming impressive pre-season victories over Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur using three at the back, will Guardiola stick with the same formation for Manchester City's Premier League opener at Brighton & Hove Albion?

If he does, it will be a gamble, as City failed to win a single Premier League match last term when veering away from a traditional back four.

They were beaten by Chelsea and Leicester City (conceding seven goals in the process) and drew with Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough. It was not a shape in which they looked especially comfortable.

Man City formations 2016/17
  Won Drew Lost
Back four 23 6 4
Back three 0 3 2

Guardiola has hinted at a switch between strategies in 2017/18, depending on the opponent.

“Some days we are going to play with that system [a form of 3-5-2] because we can put a lot of quality in midfield, but some days we will play four,” the head coach explained.

“It’s not a fixed system. The principle is: if we have the ball we are going to press. That is not going to change depending on the system."

One of the most appealing factors of a 3-5-2 is the potential for strikers Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero to partner one another in a fluid twin strikeforce.

The forwards only started three matches together after the Brazilian’s arrival in January, featuring once as an orthodox front pairing.

But they struck up an immediate chemistry. In those three starts City scored 10 times, with Aguero and Jesus netting three apiece.

Interestingly, 20-year-old Jesus was also assisted twice by Aguero, who seemed very comfortable working as part of a tandem.


While Guardiola is spoilt for choice when it comes to attacking options, he will want to try to find a way of using both goalscorers in the same XI.

Both are happy to act as a lone centre-forward, but there is no evidence to suggest the duo are incompatible.

Whether that means lining up against Brighton with a back three and an Aguero/Jesus axis up top, or incorporating the young Brazilian just behind or to the right of his fellow South American within a 4-1-4-1, we will have to wait and see.

It will be fascinating to see which way Guardiola goes.

Regardless of Man City's teamsheet, Brighton will have to play extraordinarily well to keep Saturday's opponents quiet.

Chris Hughton’s team are likely to sit deep and stay as compact as possible, but the movement of these two outstanding forwards will represent a major test of their concentration and teamwork.

Jesus and Aguero playing together 2016/17
Mins Man City goals Mins/goal Aguero goals Jesus goals
297 11 27 3 4

See: Clarke on Fabregas's danger to Burnley

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