Manchester United vs Manchester City: Can the Red Devils Handle City's Intensity and Plug Defensive Gaps in Upcoming Derby Clash?
- World Soccer Today -
In October, Manchester City defeated their rivals Manchester United 6-3 in a game known as the "derby." Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both scored hat-tricks, which helped City extend their lead over United in the Premier League standings to eight points.
|On Saturday, the coach of Manchester United, Erik ten Hag, will face off against the coach of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola.|
|Marcus Rashford is the top goal scorer for Manchester United|
|Erling Haaland has been outstanding for Manchester City this season.|
After the October game, Manchester United remained in sixth place, far behind Manchester City, while City moved closer to Arsenal in the standings.
The 6-3 defeat was a major embarrassment for United and led to criticism of their manager and players. Despite this, United still had issues from the previous season, including a tendency to falter under pressure.
However, as of January 2023, if Manchester United wins the next game against City, they will be only one point behind City in the standings.
Manchester United is currently in a stronger position than they were in October, having won 10 out of their last 11 games across all competitions.
This means that their upcoming match against Manchester City will likely be a closer game than the previous one. However, Manchester City has struggled defensively compared to last season.
They are currently conceding more goals per game and have already allowed more goals this season than they did in the previous one.
Historically, City has had one of the best defensive records in European football, but their approach is to prioritize attack over defense, believing that keeping possession of the ball will prevent the opposing team from scoring. Despite some defensive issues, City still has one of the top defensive records in the league.
The coach of Manchester City, who has won the Champions League twice, sets up his team to attack by using a strategy called "counterpressing" to quickly regain possession of the ball when they lose it.
|In this situation, Rico Lewis is instructed to move closer to Rodri while Nathan Ake takes on the role of an additional center-back.|
|Rodri is a powerful presence in the midfield.|
One example of this strategy is to have one of the center-backs, Rico Lewis, move closer to the defensive midfielder, Rodri, while another center-back, Nathan Ake, takes on a third center-back role.
To do this, one of the fullbacks moves centrally to play alongside Rodri, and the other fullback tucks in to form a back three with the two center-backs. This changes the team's formation from 4-3-3 to 3-2-5.
Guardiola uses this strategy because it allows for more defensively-minded players to be in the middle of the field when they lose the ball, which makes it more difficult for the opposing team to counterattack.
|Demarai Gray of Everton picked up the ball near the midfield, ran down the open left channel, cut inside and scored, taking advantage of the open space on Manchester City's flanks.|
However, this strategy also creates a weakness, as it leaves the flanks exposed with less coverage by the fullbacks.
Opponents of Manchester City can take advantage of the exposed flanks in City's defensive formation by smoothly transitioning into these spaces.
Recently, Everton managed to get a draw at City's stadium by exploiting this weakness in City's defense.
|Manchester City often directed Chelsea to play on the left side of the field and used a man-marking strategy to trap Chelsea in a corner and regain possession.|
One of the striking characteristics of City's game is the intensity they bring when pressing high up the field.
In their recent FA Cup match against Chelsea, City pressed the opposing team relentlessly and committed a lot of players forward, leaving the flanks exposed.
Manchester United, who will be facing City in an upcoming game, have improved their build-up play and passing out from the back which was an area where they struggled earlier in the season.
However, City is known for their intense pressing and it will be interesting to see if United can handle this pressure.
In the upcoming game between Manchester United and Manchester City, United's ability to bypass City's high press could be a decisive factor in the outcome.
Manchester United have been known to either excel or struggle under high pressing teams.
|Casemiro is the key player for Manchester United.|
United have recently made changes to their midfield, opting to play Scott McTominay and Fred less often in league games, and instead opting for Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.
However, with City expected to dominate possession at Old Trafford, United's coach, Erik ten Hag, may consider bringing in a more defensively-minded player.
City tends to use the halfspaces to create scoring opportunities, and ten Hag will need to come up with a plan to counter this.
He may choose to have his double-pivot plug these gaps by tracking the runners into the channels, which is something United didn't do well enough in the reverse fixture at the Etihad.
|Fred has noticed the gap between his left-back and the closest center-back and moves to follow the run of a Burnley player in order to prevent them from getting the ball in the box.|
In the upcoming game between Manchester United and Manchester City, Manchester United's coach, Erik ten Hag, may choose to play Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield instead of Christian Eriksen.
This is because McTominay and Fred are good at plugging gaps in the defense when they open up, which will be important to defend against City's advanced central midfielders.
Even though this change means that United will lose Eriksen's passing range, it may be important to have more defensive players alongside Casemiro given that United will be defending for most of the game.
Both teams can afford to lose the game, but a defeat could hurt their chances of finishing in the top four or winning the Premier League.
This game is expected to be closer than the previous one, and a win for United will show that they are a strong team this season.
Other teams competing for a spot in the Champions League will be watching the game closely, hoping that City can end United's winning streak.