Man City formation in Liverpool defeat disputed by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher | Soccer News

What system did Manchester City play in possession against Liverpool? Did Liverpool stop Kevin De Bruyne at the source, or were City short of a man on the right flank? Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher traded opposing views on great sunday – but who was right?

Mohamed Salah’s sensational second-half goal divided the teams at Anfield, but there was a split in the studio after the full-time whistle as Carragher praised Liverpool for choking out Kevin De Bruyne – but Neville wasn’t. disagreed and blamed City’s system.

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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher disagree on Manchester City’s formation against Liverpool and analyze ‘silent’ performances from regular stars Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland

Guardiola opted to start with three centre-backs for the first time in the Premier League this season – with De Bruyne alongside Ilkay Gundogan behind Erling Haaland.

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Pep Guardiola has deployed a 3-4-2-1 system for the first time in the Premier League this season

“Both times De Bruyne had time on the ball, he found Haaland in the first half,” Carragher said. “Haaland doesn’t score and the other was the goal disallowed – a brilliant pass.

Kevin De Bruyne gives Erling Haaland a header
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Kevin De Bruyne gives Erling Haaland a header

“I think it’s because Liverpool prevented City from having space and time on the ball because if you get there De Bruyne always delivers.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League game between Liverpool and Manchester City

The stats certainly back that up: Liverpool excelled in all key defensive metrics against the defending champions and almost doubled their season average for tackles per game. In terms of work rate, Liverpool have covered 118.59km – a distance surpassed only once by Klopp’s side in the last three league campaigns.

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Liverpool were also noticeably deeper than usual. Both teams have traditionally led the way in playing high lines, but the Reds’ average passing streak started just 34m from their own goal.

Liverpool Intensity

Liverpool have clocked 118.6km against Man City – only Tottenham have run further in a Premier League game this season, clocking 119.4km against Leicester in September

To put that into context, that’s 14m deeper than Liverpool’s average against Crystal Palace in August. In fact, it’s the deepest they’ve played in the Premier League since they faced City almost three years ago in 2019.

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Liverpool have averaged just three outfield players in their own half in their last eight league games, but averaged eight against Man City on Sunday

However, Neville disagreed and suggested City’s system had isolated De Bruyne: “I’m not sure [Carragher’s point].

“Listen, who are we to sit here and criticize Pep Guardiola? [But] space for De Bruyne is always created when Cancelo [is slightly behind him and wide] and another player [is out wide, in front of Cancelo]. Then the ball goes [to the advanced wide player] and De Bruyne does this race.

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Joao Cancelo (RWB) and Kevin De Bruyne (RAM) were alone on the right channel

“De Bruyne didn’t have any players out on that last line. Cancelo is playing as a right-back which meant he was also missing a pass – so they had a short option on that side. City still have a triangle on each side. , which means that these [free the channel] for De Bruyne’s runs.

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The visualization on the left shows the passes made by Kevin De Bruyne, while the visualization on the right shows the passes received and reveals that the Belgian has received far fewer passes from the right channel than usual.

“City played with a back five in possession, they had three at the back, two [wide] and the boxes in midfield – where De Bruyne was the man inside – but he didn’t have the Liverpool full-back removed.”

Carra disagrees with back five in possession

Carrager: They didn’t play with a back five with the ball, they didn’t!! They had a back three, Cancelo was on the right, Foden on the left. A midfielder and three up front.

Neville: It was not like that. Who was on the right wing?

Carrager: To cancel

Neville: No chance! He was deeper than a right winger would normally be, miles deep. We will have to look back.

Carrager: What are you doing tomorrow?

Neville: I’ll watch it back!

Neville reiterates the blank from the right flank

Neville then clarified his point: “Cancelo would normally [slightly behind De Bruyne and wide] and Mahrez, or Foden, would be [out wide in front of Cancelo].

“They only had De Bruyne and Cancelo on it [right] side. Two players against three normally. It’s indisputable, wherever you think Cancelo played. They had a man short on that side, which I think left De Bruyne slightly isolated in that channel.

“It meant that (Andy) Robertson could play closer, because the wide player came back. I think it cost City, in terms of De Bruyne. Getting the space he normally would have.”

As the graph below shows, City were certainly light on pass combinations down the right channel, with Cancelo and De Bruyne completely isolated as the only City players occupying that flank in the opposition half.

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This graph shows common pass exchanges, with thick arrows indicating more passes, and reveals that Man City’s combinations were heavily skewed down the left flank, while Cancelo and De Bruyne were isolated on the right.

Indeed, it appeared to be a tactical ploy to target Liverpool’s right channel, where James Milner battled with Phil Foden and prevailed.

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Half of Man City’s attacks have come down their left flank

In summary, the stats provide evidence to support both pundits’ opinions, with Liverpool excelling defensively, Cancelo playing slightly deeper than a regular right winger at City and De Bruyne slightly isolated on a barren right flank.

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