Last Word On Football’s Manchester City Manifesto is back after another glorious week of action for all your favourite sky blues. On this week’s edition, we discuss the Tottenham Hotspur game, including the new handball law. Plus the Manchester City Women’s team were in action in North Carolina, where they showed themselves well in the Women’s ICC. But of course, we start with Tottenham.
Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham
This was the type of performance that should concern Pep Guardiola and his staff. Manchester City were territorially dominant. They outshot Tottenham an astonishing 30 to three and out possessed them 55-45. If you look at the possession heatmaps, almost all of the Tottenham possession was spread throughout their backline.
However, the game finished 2-2. Manchester City converted two of their 30 shots, while Tottenham converted two of their three. It’s the type of performance that has plagued Pep Guardiola in the Champions League for years. Last season’s exit at the hands of Tottenham featured a first leg that went exactly like this.
To his credit, he has changed some aspects of his team to start this season. He is never going to change his philosophy, and the new rule changes only embolden him to go further. But with a squad as deep and versatile as this one, there are plenty of other interesting changes to explore.
Pep’s Tactical Change
Everyone knows that Pep Guardiola’s most common formation has been a 4-3-3. He loves to press the opponent by pushing his three forwards as high as possible and then using the two attacking midfielders to fill the gaps. It’s a tactic that has led him to multiple league titles. But so far this season he has been doing something different.
He has set his teams up in what is essentially a 4-2-2-2. Take Saturday’s lineup as an example; without the ball, the lines went like this. Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne were the first line, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva were the second, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodrigo were the third line.
This wasn’t the only example of him using the formation this season. He used it against West Ham United and in the Community Shield, except with David Silva pushed up next to Gabriel Jesus, and de Bruyne partnered with Rodrigo.
The formation comes alive in attack because it creates space for Silva or de Bruyne to find the ball in quick transition. On Saturday City were able to create a couple of chances in transition with de Bruyne at the centre of it all.
The Handball Rule
Now we get to the most controversial moment from Saturday’s game, the new Handball rule. When Gabriel Jesus scored what looked like the winner there was no way the referee could see the slightest of handball touches by Aymeric Laporte as the ball came in. Which is where VAR comes in and spots the infringement.
It’s not VAR’s fault that the goal wasn’t given, they did their job perfectly. Why the IFAB decided that this summer, while everyone is still getting used to VAR, was the summer to change the handball rule. They made a bunch of changes over the summer, some dumb, some not. But changing the handball rule while VAR is still in such early stages is ludicrous.
The problem comes down to where VAR is applied. As of now, it is only allowed to get involved in goals, penalties, or potential red cards. So the scenario arises where if the ball goes off a player in the buildup to a corner or set piece and the team scores from that set-piece, the goal stands because the handball cannot be reviewed.
It’s putting a tonne of pressure on referees to see handballs in real-time. It’s just as likely that a ref misses a handball in the buildup to a corner as it is for them to miss one in the buildup to a goal. But only one of those plays can be reviewed, and if the set-piece is scored on, tough luck.
Man City Women ICC Results
The Women’s team were in action in North Carolina this week for the Women’s International Champions Cup. The Cityzens faced off against two top-notch teams in the North Carolina Courage and Atletico Madrid, and they really held their own. Despite being the only team to not win their national league last season, Manchester City Women ended beating Atletico for third place, with Lyon beating the Courage in the final.
They scored four goals in the two games in NC with Georgia Stanway, Tessa Wullaert, Janine Beckie and Lauren Hemp grabbing the goals. Stanway was especially impressive, she didn’t get much run during the World Cup but looked really, really good in these two games.
Manchester City EDS Report
The Manchester City EDS team has gotten off to a slow start with back-to-back defeats to start the Premier League 2 season. First, it was a wild 4-3 opening game loss to Southampton, now a 3-1 loss on the road to Tottenham.
It’s hard to separate these performances from the fact that Eric Garcia has been training with the first team. He will be going back and forth all season which will make it hard to find stability. The ideal situation is Taylor Harwood-Bellis stepping up and creating that stability. But it’s hard to make that happen in two games.
The other big news from EDS this week was that Brandon Barker left the club, joining Rangers of the SPL. Barker had been at City for 14 years, having joined at age eight. He was highly touted when he first burst onto the scene, winning Academy player of the year in 2014. But he never took the next step that he needed to become a Manchester City player. Good luck at Rangers Brandon!
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