Forward Options

Alex Livesey

In light of another Aguero set-back and with the continuing lack of fitness shown by Stevan Jovetic, Man City's forward options are increasingly thin. Can Dzeko and/or Negredo carry the burden for the next month or more until Aguero returns?

Well, you know, it may well be less than a month until Sergio Aguero returns from "muscle pain" suffered during the defeat to Barcelona, but with Aguero's increasingly frequent muscles issues it's best not to count on the player until a slow and steady rehab programme has been completed.

That could well mean a month on the sidelines, possibly more.

So Man City are left to rely on Jovetic, who has fitness issues of his own, and Dzeko and Negredo, neither of whom is in the kind of form which fills one with confidence. Upcoming fixtures are tough, a forward corps consisting of two slumping forwards and two forwards with injury issues is far from ideal.

Is it possible to play Negredo and Dzeko as a pair for the next 4 or 5 games? Yes, it's possible but it's not ideal considering potential injury risk. But the main issue is the supposed lack of chemisty between the pair. iS the lack of chemistry between the pair a thing? Lets do a quick and dirty test to find out.

Dzeko And Negredo

To look at this supposed lack of chemistry lets pull the numbers for when Dzeko and Negredo are on the field of play at the same time (PL games only).

Minutes Shots SoT Shot Assists Goals Sc% SoT%
507 42 12 15 4 28.57 28.57

These are the raw numbers, the minutes played together is really low (about 5 and a half 90 minute games) and this is in part due to Aguero being the undisputed #1 striker. But there's more to it. Only since Aguero has been injured has a Dzeko & Negredo partnership featured heavily.

N_and_d_time_medium

Aguero's injury troubles in the last 10 games forced Pellegrini to put his two power forwards together and the results haven't been to overwhelming. If we take the table above and turn it into a per90 table it looks like this:

Minutes Shots SoT Goal Contribution P90 Shot Contribution p90
507 7.46 2.13 0.89 10.12

So, when Dzeko and Negredo are on the field of play at the same time they genreate just over 7 shots but only 2 shots on target per 90 minutes. Goal contribution is low, shot contribution should be better. So why in this small sample of minutes are Dzeko and Negredo not posting better numbers than just 4 goals in 507 minutes?

Shots on target volume is too low (a combined SoT% of 28.6% doesn't help - average for strikers is much higher)and when those shots are registered on target just 33.3% of those result in a goal (another low number).

In short: Dzeko and Negredo haven't spent too many minutes together and those minutes they have spent together have been due to Aguero's injury issues. During the minutes Dzeko and Negredo have spent together their underlying shots numbers aren't too impressive, their combined scoring%'s aren't impressive and thus they have only scored a combined 4 goals when together on the field.

507 minutes is a small sample, there may well be quality of competition issues at play, but it may simply be that these two players do not complement each other particlarly well. It could be a chemistry thing, or could simply be that a lack of playing time together has led to a lack of on-field understanding.#

***

So Dzeko and Negredo don't complement each other particlarly well in our limited sample. Aguero is injured and Jovetic can not yet be trusted. So what should Pellegrini do? We know the Chilean likes to run two strikers together but it may not be his best option right now. Would a change to a formation similar to the one we saw against Barcelona work in league action?

Could a midfield of Fernandinho and Garcia allow Pellegrini to field a front four of Nasri, Toure, Silva and Dzeko/Negredo as the attacking options?

Would that be a better plan than pairing Dzeko and Negredo or the oft-injured Jovetic with one of the remaining power forwards - Dzeko, Negredo?

Given Dzeko and Negredo's less than stellar results when paired together I would be sorely tempted to see if a Nasri/Toure/Silva/Dzeko partnership would work. I think this may be a better option until Aguero's return than running Dzeko and Negredo into the ground with three or four full 90 minute games only to discover that, yes, the partnership that hasn't really clicked so far, still doesn't click even afer another four games of trying.

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