We play Manchester United on Saturday. The thing with United is that while you might think you match up okay with them, they have more ways to beat you than anyone else. So we have a nice midfield at the moment, right? Fine, but United are deadly down the flanks, and that at once nullifies one of our best players (Riise) and perhaps exploits a potential weakness of ours (defending wide areas). Remember what they did to us at the Cottage?
We seemed to do okay, but they kept on hitting us with lightning strikes and walloped us.. up there we did okay as well, and were denied a late penalty following a refereeing bottle job.
Using the new Opta stats available from Manchester City, we can see all kinds of things. Here, for instance, are the touches in the final third in the two games.
Two things: one, it all goes through Giggs; two: Valencia (and Nani) are a constant menace. Valencia’s numbers look lower in the Craven Cottage game, but if you recall, an early injury saw him withdrawn to right-back. Add in the fact that watching Robin van Persie play against Fulham always seems to be stressful, and we’ve got our hands full.
Good news might be that United looked iffy against Everton, although Zonal Marking suggests this was because Everton murdered them in the air, and we don’t really have that in our locker when attacking. We do have the Diarra and Dembele combination and I imagine Ruiz will prove hard for them to handle (they still lack a natural holding player, right?), but I do worry about those flanks.
Richard Allen founded this website in 2006.