Manchester City have a new system that they will use against Sheffield United at the weekend.
The Blades host Man City on Saturday lunchtime, with both sides having had disappointing starts to the new Premier League season.
United have picked up just one point from their first six games and are the lowest scorers in the division with only three goals.
City have eight points and are 13th, having already lost at home to Leicester City and drawn with West Ham United and newly promoted Leeds United.
Yet the Manchester Evening News reports manager Pep Guardiola has tweaked his tactics to address the situation. With both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus out with injuries, Guardiola has to rethink his attack.
Against Marseille in the Champions League on Tuesday, summer signing Ferran Torres was used through the middle. But it was out wide where Guardiola truly switched things up.
Raheem Sterling switched from the left wing to the right, while Phil Foden played on the opposite flank. It meant having a right-footed attacker on the right and vice versa.
This allowed Sterling and Foden to make more direct, penetrating runs at Marseille’s five-man defence. Which worked, with them winning 3-0 in France.
Manchester City will do the same at Sheffield United
Guardiola is reacting to the amount of back threes/fives his team now face. In four of their five league matches this term they have come up against it, with Leeds the only side not to deploy the tactic.
City are still enjoying large amounts of possession just as they did in their dominant campaigns of 2017/18 and 2018/19. But now they’re struggling to breakdown these packed defences.
At least they were when Sterling and often Riyad Mahrez were constantly cutting in from the left and right wings respectively. With this new direct system, the defending team has less time to react to an attack.
Which will give the Blades something to think about this weekend. They relied on their defensive resolve last season when finishing ninth in their first top flight campaign in 12 years. Only the top three had a better record.
However, they are yet to keep a clean sheet in 2020/21. Doing so against Guardiola’s side would be an impressive feat.