With the chances of Manchester City men’s team winning the EPL being close to impossible. Their women’s team were denied from their second FA Women’s Super League title after finishing runner-up in the previous two seasons. With 16 matches played so far, one point ahead of Chelsea, the Manchester City Women’s team were leading the points table with 40 points until the FAWSL board decided to end this season.
Before directly jumping into our tactical analysis, let’s begin by understanding and knowing their team completely.
Having a squad with an average age of 26, Manchester City Women were one of the fastest teams this season and were coached by Alan Mahon.
They always opted to play a formation of 4-4-2 and switch to 3-3-4 during their transition to attack which we will analyse later in our analysis. Man City have scored 39 goals from 16 matches this season. Pauline Bremer, was a most in-form striker in the FAWSL this season and found the net 10 times from just playing 578 minutes. Beckie having the most number of assists(8), has been one of the key players for Man City. With an experienced defence and FAWSL’s best keeper on goal, Man city have conceded nine goals this season. One who had read my previous analysis would know why I refer Ellie Roebuck as the best goalkeeper of this season.
Lets us now begin with our tactical analysis.
Manchester City Women’s defending
With Stokes, Houghton, Bonner, and Beckie as the back four, Man City’s defence was as strong as ever. With 10 clean-sheets this season their defence has been the strongest one to breakthrough.
Man City have won 66.32% of their tackles and are third when compared to the other teams in the competition. They have a successful pressure percentage of 30.6 which is above average and just 6% less than Chelsea.
This kind of defensive formation allows Man city’s defence to stay compact and reduce the space behind to stop the through balls. Given how strong the corridors are for them, they focus to keep the centre compact and safe and force the opponents to make back passes with their pressure.
They have stopped 50 shots which were on target and intercepted as much as 145 passes and 342 clearances this season.
Out of their 311 tackles this season, the majority of them are in the mid-third meaning Man City try to win the balls in the mid-third rather than letting the defence win it for them.
Manchester City Women’s transition from defending to attacking
Man City’s transition to attack is an interesting part to analyse. One who had seen the squad list must have wondered why Beckie who is a forward is playing as a right full-back. The answer to it is, during their transition to attack, Man City change their formation to 3-4-3 in the mid-third and 3-3-4 in the final third. Beckie being the fastest in their team along with good dribbling ability breaks the opponent’s defence and go for the crosses.
The 3-5-2 formation in the mid-third provides them with so many options to pass and build their game. It’s mostly Beckie who combines with the midfielders during this transition.
As soon as they enter the final third they shift into a 3-3-4 formation which helps both the strikers to stay in front of the goal to meet the crosses from the wings. As Beckie moves up the corridors, Scott holds back to maintain the balance in the mid-third.
In the mid-third, Man city prefers to play fast by progressive passes rather than slowing down the game.
One can see Man City at the top with the highest number of key passes(209) made and also are second in the total(858) number of progressive passes. From this, we could conclude the majority of their progressive passes made by Man City are key passes.
To further analyse the passes made in the transition let us now look at the number of passes made to the final third as well as to the penalty area.
With stars like White and Stanway playing in the front, any opponent has got to keep fearing the entire 90 minutes. With such high progressive passes and key passes made only could say Man City’s midfielders are their pillars to rely on.
Man City isn’t afraid to switch sides through long balls. This way of switching sides is often done by Beckie to exploit the space between the full-backs.
Despite making so many passes into the final third why is their total goal count still less when compared to Chelsea and Arsenal? Let’s find out.
Manchester City Women’s Attacking
Man City is one such team who like to build up their play from the back. Very often one can see Roebuck passing the ball to either of the centre backs and build the play from the back towards the final third. From the formation of 4-4-2, they slowly transform to 3-3-4 when attacking. When opponents try to press them high and win the ball, Roebuck is used as a sweeper to switch sides when all of their players are marked.
Man city tend to attack from the wings most of the time. It’s always the wings receiving the ball from the defence and either of the strikers make a run in the line attracting a full back towards the striker, which creates space in the defence for the rest to exploit.
The wingers have many options once they enter the final third. With an offensive formation of 3-3-4, the wingers look to cross the ball to the strikers. If the strikers are marked they have the midfielders to support them. The midfielders often go very high while attacking to make use of the second balls and also to press high and win it immediately in case they lose the ball, which we will analyse shortly.
Being the team with the third-highest number of goals this season, let’s begin to analyse how well they perform in front of the goal.
The above visualisation gives us an idea of how good the shooting quality of Man City is. On an average, they take 16.50 shots per match out of which 6.25 shots are on target whereas Chelsea has 8.07 shots on target from the 20 shots they take in a match.
Man City aren’t shot shy at all. Let’s analyse a bit further on their shooting quality.
One can see the majority of the goals scored by Man City are inside the penalty box, which justifies the high number of key passes made by them. City liking to attack from the wings, always look to cross the ball into the penalty area or try to create space and give a through ball to either White or Stanway to score.
One should not forget City have taken 264 shots so far this season out of which they have converted only 39.
As we analyse the above visualisation we could see more Man City’s shots finding the keeper than finding the net. This has been a worrying factor in the attack lately. Even though they score more one should not forget all that had come against teams which are at the bottom. One who had followed their matches would agree to the point that they have been struggling to score against a team which possess equal threat.
The finishing ability is even more worrying when the shots are off-target.
These factors are yet to be improved and looked after. One cannot simply miss chances. From the above plot, one could see more number of shots were off target right in front of the goal. These poor performances affect the stats which states that Man City has a goal per shot value of 0.15.
But do we conclude Man City’s attack a failure? No. Man City’s attack has been performing well despite their mistakes. When compared in the league they are among the top 3 teams with dangerous goal-scoring abilities. However, the true potential is yet to be tested.
Manchester City Women’s transition from attacking to defending
Man City’s transition from attacking to defending is spontaneous. The player close to the ball accelerates and presses the opponent with the ball while the remaining players mark the nearest player by making it difficult for the opponents to break through their press.
Their initial formation during this transformation that is 3-5-2, with the mid-third being compact with five players, one of the strikers falls back to support and win the ball. With the others marking the closest man nearby, the midfielders reduce the area of the attacker and win the ball by applying pressure.
Another key tactic of City this season has been that they press high. They don’t let the opponents settle. They force the opponents to go for long balls and make mistakes. These long balls are won in aerial duels by them and their transition to attack begins.
During the initial stage of high press, that is immediately after the ball is lost, City adopts a formation of 3-3-3-1 in the attacking third from their attacking formation of 3-3-4.
Man City’s pressure applying zones are second highest in the attacking third and highest in the mid-third. With either White or Stanway leading the press from the front, the wingers along with another striker making the back three to support and counter immediately if the ball is won.
If by any chance a team plays faster than City and breaks through their high pressure, City isn’t afraid to make those fouls to slow down the game and then get back to their defensive formation of 5-3-2.
Manchester City Women’s set-piece analysis
Man City aren’t very successful from set-pieces but that is not to say that it isn’t a threat. One of their tactics is to put the ball into the penalty area and wait for the strikers to do their job. This may sound scrappy but it has done the trick for them. This can be seen in their way of taking free-kicks.
One could see most of their free-kicks are into the penalty area and not to the goal. Man City has a conversion rate of 50% from free-kicks this season alone. Their constant distribution of ball into the penalty area acts as one of the biggest success this season.
Man City’s throw in varies from situation to situation. When they want to attack and play fast the throws always are on the lines. If they want to play slow its either a throw to one of the mid-fielders leg or to the defenders to build the movement from scratch.
Man City have a unique way of taking corners. Most of their corners are to the first post and the players make a run from the goal line. Weir being the constant kick taker during corners have taken 36 out of 39 free-kicks this season. Despite several attempts made they have failed to convert even a single from corners this season.
Mahon’s team have set standards for other teams this season with their performance. With their key players performing well and Mahon’s understanding of the players as to how to use them has been their key to success. Even though the finishing of Arsenal and Chelsea are better, Man city’s finishing is no less with the quality strikers they have under their roof. Beckie has been the best player this season and her role in the team has been vital and irreplaceable.
If Manchester City Women work on their mistakes and improve themselves before the start of next season, I assure no one can stop Man City from winning their second league title.