- Formation – City played their usual 4-2-3-1 – with an interchangeable forward 4 players at times it becomes 4-2-2-2 with Nasri and Silva tucked in behind Aguero and Dzeko . To combat the threat of City we played a defensive 4-4-2 with 2 banks of 4 in close proximity to deny space between the lines of our midfield and defence. Offensively, Cahill and Fellaini playing further upfield – the Belgian’s role also required him to shuttle into mdfield when the Blues where not in possession.
- The display was undoubtedly defensive – City’s depth of attacking talent is ridiculous – however our play was more offensive than in last seasons win at Eastlands . Yesterday we had more touches of the ball (575 v 558)… had more shots (6 v4) …better pass completion (79% v 73%) ….and more possession (37% v 31%) in comparison to last seasons win.
- David Silva has created more scoring opportunities than any other player in the division and Moyes view was that he required specific attention with Rodwell given a specific man marking brief on David Silva – as he did last season at the Emirates on Fabregas. It was a role Rodwell excelled and he showed great focus and discipline throughout. Silva eventually provided an assist for Milner’s goal but for the most part he was subdued.
- The gameplan was clear – 2 banks of four with our fullbacks tucked in to block out the centre of the pitch and get as many men behind the ball as possible – the above shot shows all 10 outfield players behind the ball. City play through the middle and don’t have great width with nasri and silva preferring to tuck inside – with Clichy & Richards not providing the width required from fullback a lot of City’s breaks where intercepted by the Blues 10 man rearguard.
- The gap between our midfield and attack was too much – our 2 banks of four where repelling City’s attack well but when we got the ball long punts to Cahill and Fellaini in the hope of winning freekicks seemed to be the only real attacking strategy – unfortunately we couldn’t engineer enough of theses situations to build any sustained period of pressure in the City half.
Moyes pre match comments about our strategy being akin to ‘taking a knife to a gunfight’ where chillingly accurate. Some will say we should have gone more offensive but you have to play to your strengths – in Moyes we have a manager who has great defensive strategy and we have major issues in personnel in forward areas – so keeping things tight and looking for a 0-0 or sneaking a win was the best approach. As the stats show we where less adventurous when we won last season’s fixture – there is no shame losing to a side like City who will challenge for the title this season no doubt.