City v United: City's quality against United's intelligence

Manchester City Etihad

Manchester City boast an impressive set of statistics this season Manchester United must counter in the Manchester derby.

David Moyes would have been working on a game plan for the Manchester derby ever since the win over Bayer Leverkusen and there are several areas where he’s got his work cut out.

No team has retained possession more effectively this season than Manchester City. City have an average possession stat of 62.4% which makes them the best side in the league when it comes to keeping the ball.

One of the simplest ways Manchester United can counter that is by preventing the ball from reaching another City player where possible. United are making more interceptions per game (19.3 per match) than any other side.

That means United are the most intelligent side in the Premier League when it comes to reading the play and getting into positions to do something about it.

However, that’s going to be very difficult for David Moyes’ side because only Swansea City have a better successful pass rate this season than Manchester City (87.1% to 86.7%).

That suggests that City play simple passes the majority of the time, choosing the easy option, working their way towards the final third over going for a flamboyant, over the top through ball.

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United have to be on their guard because if City try and keep the ball close, playing in triangles to maintain possession, then there could be some very long spells in the game where United don’t see possession.

Again timing and discipline will be very important for United when dealing with that part of City’s game. United are in the bottom six sides when it comes to giving away fouls (11 per game on average) and they have to maintain that patience.

United have received more bookings this season with eight compared to City’s five and they may have to risk a couple more yellow cards to disrupt the pace and flow of City’s game.

Another way United can level the playing field and counter City’s impressive possession and passing stats is to turn the match into a gritty, dogged and aggressive affair.

City are making around a third more tackles than United on average this season which means if United can turn it into that sort of fired up game, there’s a good chance the yellow cards could come out frequently.

There’s nothing between the sides aerially with a .5 more aerial duels won by United, which means this is always going to be a game decided by which sides uses the ball better on the floor. It should be a fascinating spectacle.

image: © geetarchurchy

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