Today, I want to show the line-up that I feel best suits Manchester City and can make the best out of its players. I'll be using a 4-2-3-1 formation as has already been used to great effect. No risks with a 3-man defence, as we know its implications(yeah, I am talking about Mancini).
Goalkeeper: Hart is the numero uno for this slot. One of the best shot-stoppers in the English top flight, he has won x consecutive golden boots. After all, you aren't simply called the best goalkeeper in the world by a key player of your most bitter rival.(Wayne Rooney after Hart's solid display against Dortmund in the Champions League http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/champions-league-wayne-rooney-hails-1359305 )
Right back: Go 2 years back and you might have said that Richards should be preferred to Zabaleta. But with Richard's injury last season, the Argentine workhorse took full use of the chance and ended up being included in the PFA Team Of the Year. Though Richards has a higher attacking work rate, he can get caught in defense. Zabaleta is a lot like Lahm in this respect that he can both contribute significantly to the offense and yet put in a solid defensive performance.
Centre Backs: Few defenders can read the game as well as Kompany. He's a no-brainer for one of the 2 slots. Manchester City's reliance on him was proved yet again when both the non-victorious matches didn't have him leading the defense courtesy an injury. Moreover, he has even started atleast 2 successful counterattacks in the few games he has played this season. His left-sided partner can either be Nastasic or Lescott. Though Lescott has heaps of experience alongwith him(like Kolo whose exit had much to do with Nastasic's emergence), Nastasic is a great tackler and his omssion from even the list of nominees for PFA Young Player of the Year had invited discontent from many sections of the footballing society. Nastasic is slightly better than Lescott.
Left Back: One of the league's left backs, Gael Clichy should start over here. Some would point towards Kolarov's impressive performance in the recent derby. Although he was great in match and linked up to great effect with Nasri, he has three factors working against him. Firstly, his performance was largely due to Valencia's laziness and poor marking. Secondly, he is miles behind Clichy in terms of consistency. Thirdly, he doesn't have much defensive awareness and can be easily exploited by opponents with classy right wingers. The only way I see Kolarov becoming a regular first XI player at City is by him evolving to a winger just like Bale did at Spurs.
Central midfield: One of the most important aspects of a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 is the midfield pivot. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho seem to have developed into a great holding pivot pair albeit the fact that they have player very few matches together. Their strength was evident in the derby when they made a joke out of two quality central midfielders in the opponent's pivot. Both have significant experience in the UEFA Champions League. Fernandinho has immense energy and ability to press high up. Yaya Toure is one of the best box-to-box midfielders and has the rare distinction of being a defensive midfielder and a free-kick specialist. After all, scoring successfully from 3 free-kicks out of 3 in just over a month of a season is indeed domething special. The duo's experience in the European competitions is something that Pellegrini needs as his primary aim this year will definetely be to leave behind our previous CL nightmares and lead us to a deep run in the comeptition.
Attacking midfield: the RW position is sort of unrivalled and Navas HAS to start there. He solves the "width-problem" we had been badly suffering with during Mancini's time. He is a proper old-school winger with raw pace, the will to cross instead of cutting in (a feature seen in most wingers of the modern game, especially the inverted wingers) and exceptional crossing abilities.
Though a central role best allows Silva to dictate play with his effective passing game, there isn't any proper player for the LW spot. So, David Silva has to start over there. But still, he should be given the license to drift in like he has been doing. Because, if our prime chance creation outlet isn't properly treated, we can't hope to become one of the European football super-power. Just like Joan Ricquilme at Villareal and Isco at Malaga, Silva will be central to Pellegrini's approach at City.
The role of the central attacking midfielder or the centre forward will most likely be given to either Sergio Aguero or Jovetic. Though Jovetic has great potential and can be a future great, Aguero's on a completely different level and has already established himself as one of the league's finest goalscorers.
Striker: Many would say that Dzeko, a former bundesliga Golden Boot winner should be given the nod ahead of Negredo, the beast of Vallecas is a much better player than the Bosnian. He provides a great physical presence as seen in his dealings with Rio and Vidic, two of the league's finest centre-backs. Secondly, he's a better header of the ball than Dzeko.Being an attack filled with people of low or moderate height as in Silva, Aguero, Navas, Nasri; City badly need a player who can dominate aerially. Negredo can link-up with his teammates and create chances with much more efficiency than our No.10.
At the end, I would prefer to see us play like this:
Navas - Aguero - Silva
Please feel free to drop in your views in this issue in the comments section. I hope to have a great discussion with the ones who comment.
About the author:
Muhammad Aaqib Shamim: A Manchester City, Fernando Torres, David Silva and Rafa Benitez fan. Would love to talk about football tactics anytime.
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