Pep Guardiola makes bold tactical change for Ederson and Phil Foden but will Newcastle fall into Man City’s trap?

MANCHESTER CITY kicked off their Premier League campaign in style with a 3-0 win over Burnley last Friday.

There will be some who point out that it was “only” Burnley, but this is a side that has changed a lot since their last top-flight campaign.

Ederson frequently took the ball outside his penalty area against Burnley but played more direct passes

Phil Foden was tactically key for Man City in their win over Burnley

And they did not allow Man City to have things all their own way.

Yet despite posing a threat in the first half, the Treble winners still ran out comfortable winners.

Now they face a tougher test in the form of Newcastle – who were extremely impressive in their 5-1 win over Aston Villa.

Let’s take a look at some of the key tactical battles ahead of the clash at the Etihad

Is Ederson a midfielder now?

Ederson’s touch map against Burnley shows how often he came out of his box 

Over the course of the summer, a lot has been made of the fact that Manchester United have signed the Cameroon international Andre Onana to improve their ability to play out from the back.

This decision by United, however, is likely to have been driven by the fact that their cross-town rivals Man City already have one of the best sweeper keepers in Ederson.

But in the early stages of their season opener away to Burnley we saw a new role for Ederson as he continually stepped out of his penalty area and looked to play on the same line as his defenders when City built their attacks.

Ederson, 30, has always been a keeper who is exceptionally good with the ball at his feet, but now we are seeing Pep Guardiola trust his No1 to take even more risks.

Left-back Lewis was given the licence to step into midfield, with Ederson stepping forward and allowing Ake and Akanji to split wide 

Ederson was more direct with his passing against Burnley but still completed 57 and misplaced just 13 

The positioning of Ederson when City were building their attacks was designed to try to pull the Burnley press towards the ball and create space behind the press.

When Burnley did step up, we saw that Ederson has the quality to find passes to break the press into the midfield area.

However, we saw that City were willing to take more time with passes to find the wide forwards or the center forward when Burnley stayed deep.

As we witnessed against Aston Villa, Newcastle will give a different challenge to City in this match, and they are remarkably well organized without the ball.

They will likely sit in a more effective defensive block between the ball and their goal, allowing Ederson to step out with less direct pressure on the City goalkeeper

To drag Burnley out, Ederson advanced to form a back three, but ultimately had to play longer passes over the defensive block

Ederson is not a typical keeper, though.

In most instances, keepers, even those comfortable with the ball at their feet, will be less effective in terms of build-up and breaking down an opposition block compared to an outfield player.

In Ederson’s case, however, he has the passing range and accuracy to confidently play out from the back and find the free player in more advanced areas.

How will City cope with the loss of De Bruyne?

When Man City won their first Champions League at the end of the 2022/23 season against Inter Milan, they did so without their midfield talisman.

Kevin De Bruyne, 32, was forced from the pitch with an injury in the first half and City were forced to adjust mid-game.

The mercurial Belgian was back for the start of the new season but unfortunately he lasted just 23 minutes before he was forced from the pitch with a problem which now requires surgery.

Without the ball-carrying and passing range of De Bruyne, Guardiola will have to adjust the way his side create space and chances in the final third.

Foden found space superbly despite Burnley sitting in a deep block when Man City had the ball 

Phil Foden, fortunately, is a ready-made creative replacement for Guardiola and Man City.

The 23-year-old England international started the game against Burnley on the left, with Erling Haaland in the midfield and Julian Alvarez on the right.

Foden moved around more and more as the game progressed, occupying key locations and serving as the connection to Haaland.

Foden played a key role in laying the ball off to Haaland from direct Ederson passes 

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Foden start wide against Newcastle as well, but with the freedom to move into deeper areas to give City the same alternatives De Bruyne provides.

Given that Newcastle are an extremely organised defensive block, it is likely City will need a player around the final third who can receive the ball in tight areas and move it quickly to force a break through.

Newcastle’s upgraded midfield

The fans of Newcastle have been waiting for them to outspend their rivals ever since they were taken over.

Instead, we have observed Eddie Howe’s guys recruit and behave in the market in a very prudent manner while maintaining a clear focus on financial fairness.

There have been some exceptions to this tendency, like the £43 million acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon.

With the acquisition of Sandro Tonali from AC Milan this summer, Newcastle took steps to bolster their midfield group. Tonali is an international for Italy.

And in their opening match, their midfield was exceptionally impressive with Guimaraes and Tonali being joined by the more attacking Joelinton

Newcastle were intelligent when it came to choosing whether to sit off or press Aston Villa 

Tonali and Guimaraes are both tactically intelligent players who are equally as impressive in the attacking and defensive areas of the game.

While they have the work rate to shift across and close space that the opposition can break into, they also have the range of passing and vision to effectively launch counter-attacks.

Newcastle’s midfield will be crucial in stopping Man City’s rotations against the champions as they attempt to generate passing angles.

The ability to capitalize on the space Manchester City will leave in transition is crucial when Newcastle gains possession in higher positions.

As Tonali drops deep to give Trippier an option, this allows Guimaraes to make a forward run 

Even though City is known for having a strong center of the field, Newcastle’s technical ability and their aggressive midfielders will hinder City’s possession.

What does this mean?

We must be explicit. This Man City club is really challenging to play against because they have strong players on the entire roster.

With Ederson’s placement, Guardiola has added a tactical component to the team’s strategy.

Of course, Erling Haaland, one of the most dangerous forwards in football, is also on their roster.

So, can Newcastle still take something from this game?

They absolutely can but their focus needs to be on their midfield and preventing City from being able to comfortably keep the ball in central areas of the pitch.

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