Lets get one thing straight from the start, one of the reasons Pep Guardiola decided on forking out £36 million last July for then Benfica goalkeeper Ederson Santana de Moraes was not that he had previously excelled in sending long goal kicks into centre forwards in goal scoring positions, in fact, since the 2014/15 season, up until Sundays 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town, Ederson hadn’t registered a single assist in any shape or form in 7648 minutes of first team football. Not unusual of course for a goal keeper.
He had provided the odd ‘key pass’ here and there but nothing of any worth.
Something more palatable?
According to WhoScored.com the Brazilian international has attempted 1,155 long balls in club football to date and 498 of them have reached there intended target, 43% in fact, so can we start to see some form here? Still questionable?
Fair enough, i agree.
We could try to pick out differing stats from Ederson’s passing past and could end up with various conclusions but one things for certain even in open play Ederson is very, very comfortable with the ball at his feet and, oh very accurate.
We saw last season with Manchester City and indeed with Barcelona before them how Pep likes his keepers to be able to play out from the back sometimes with calamitous consequences re Claudio Bravo, who albeit hilarious to watch and also looks like someone has chucked a firework at his feet, caused more problems than solutions. Joe Hart wasnt deemed good enough either and was shipped out on loan to West Ham.
So Ederson comes in and things already look up in regards to Pep’s goal keeping conundrum. He is calm and confident under pressure, isnt frightened of a Cruyff turn here and there and can ping a pass 70 odd yards to its destination with relative ease.
That Huddersfield assist though?!
Anyway i digress, and to the Etihad on Sunday and City are dominating possession against David Wagner’s Terriers from Yorkshire. City have a goal kick and set up as shown below
A typical short goal kick set up you might say? Indeed but note the positioning of Mendy, Jesus and Bernardo Silva who Huddersfield probably think wont be the first port of call for the goal kick given the positions of Laporte, Kompany and Stones. Little do they know Jesus and Bernardo are positioned where they are for a specific purpose.
Lets stick the Huddersfield players in for context.
The marking is good considering they dont think Ederson will be kicking this ball long by any stretch. They have the City back three penned in, Fernandinho and Gundogan cant receive the ball where they are as they are to being marked. Here is a screenshot from a wider angle.
In my graphic i have marked the arrow where the ball is going and also the runs of the City attackers once the ball has been kicked. The Terriers are off guard and have left Aguero one v one at the back because as i mentioned there’s no way the ball will be kicked long, right?
Ederson pings his 83 yard pass and City are on the move. Bernardo Silva, who starts his run from 10 yards shy of the halfway line, doubles back round Aguero who has sprinted from just inside the Huddersfield left hand side, across the pitch and toward the inside right channel he will end up on the edge of the box somehow with the ball at his feet.
Most opponents will expect you to probably hit a striker, or more fashionable these days, a full back with a longish goal kick (Mendy was a decoy here as this side is where Aguero starts his run from) so this ploy was training ground practised at its very best and as we can see from the final image above, all of City’s outfield players end up pretty much in the Huddersfield half by the time Aguero has chipped the ball over Ben Hamer in the Huddersfield goal.
Huddersfield made the fatal mistake of leaving Aguero 1v1 at the back and that in itself is inexcusable but they did not expect Ederson to hit the ball to such accurate effect to the diminutive Argentinian to opening the scoring for the Citizens in what was to be an emphatic victory.
A quick thought on the flip side is that David De Gea attempted to find Fred in the centre circle in Manchester United’s defeat at Brighton on Sunday in a similar ploy yet Brighton left four players in areas around the centre circle but left Fred with enough space to draw him into thinking he was safe to receive the ball. Brighton proceeded to crowd Fred out and dispossessed him quickly and set up a counter attack which resulted in Chris Hughton’s team winning a penalty after a clumsy foul by United’s Eric Bailly so there are ways of attempting to thwart these kind of goal kicks from happening but stopping City from doing it is another thing all together.
One things for sure. Ederson now has an assist to his name after 7742 minutes of first team football.