Has Guardiola’s constant tinkering ruined City’s season?

Formation Played Won Drawn Lost Conceded Scored Win %

4-2-3-1       12 8 1 3 11 24 66%

4-1-4-1 7 3 4 0 6 13 42%

4-3-3 6 6 0 0 4 15 100%

3-4-2-1 2 0 1 1 4 2 0%

3-4-3 1 0 1 0 1 1 0%

3-4-3 (Diamond) 1 0 1 0 4 2 0%

4-1-2-1-2 1 0 0 1 4 0 0%

After last night’s defeat to Chelsea and my constant frustration at not being able to predict Pep’s starting eleven for Manchester City I thought I would take a deeper look at if his constant messing around with his team selection and formations has hampered his sides title charge and what could be the solution.

The table above shows the basic win percentages of these team shapes in the Premier League this season. In more recent games Pep has tried to persevere with the 4-1-4-1 shape with Yaya Toure in the holding role in front of a back four of Clichy, Stones, Otamendi and Sagna/Zabaleta but even this has been infrequent and with a win percentage of 42% should he of stuck with it a bit more?.

The bottom four in that table can be discounted as these seem to be more of an experimental time in his tenure but injuries could be a factor in these set ups. Guardiola does like to play with 3 at the back if he and when he can with usually Stones, Otamendi and Kolarov/Zabaleta with wing backs Clichy and Sagna operating on the flanks but also moving in to the centre of midfield so that the back three can spread out to not only receive the ball from the goalkeeper but to make the pitch as wide as possible to make the opposition attackers have to work harder.

4-3-3 clearly worked with a 100% win percentage albeit only for six games with the best, and last of them coming in a 0-2 win away against Sunderland on the 5 March. Although facing a weaker opposition in Sinderland City were in total control and with Toure sitting Fernandinho covering aswell, Silva and the other front three were able to attack with gusto. This game did coincide with Kevin De Bruyne being injured so again maybe him being absent dictated team shape?

The main success from a formation point of view has been the 4-2-3-1 without a doubt in my opinion. The loss to Chelsea last night doesn’t contradict this in anyway. The selection of Delph instead of Toure was baffling to say the least with the Ivorian clearly better at a holding role that Delph and the call in the second half for him to come on never happened and if he had come on I think City would have snatched a point with his passing and driving forward attitude. Jesus Navas is not a wing back and although his performance last night was better against Arsenal at the weekend he was poor and clearly Bacary Sagna is the better choice but come the summer both he and Clichy may find themselves surplus to requirements.

In summary Guardiola hasn’t helped himself with his selections and I for one am disappointed that it has gone this way as I truly believe had he found the ideal shape and players for his team, just as Antonio Conte has at Chelsea, City really would have been a force to be reckoned with.

Gareth Cooper



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