Football: Pep Guardiola plans for a 4-2-4 Manchester City formation to break down opponents who packed their defence

Manchester City's David Silva scoring his team's winner in the 83rd minute of the Premier League match against West Ham on Sunday to win 2-1. City are proving that every cloud has a Silva lining recently, with Raheem Sterling also coming to their res
Manchester City's David Silva scoring his team's winner in the 83rd minute of the Premier League match against West Ham on Sunday to win 2-1. City are proving that every cloud has a Silva lining recently, with Raheem Sterling also coming to their rescue with late winners in their past three games.PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardiola plans for a 4-2-4 City formation to break down teams who pack their defence

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has warned teams who "park the bus" against Manchester City that he will respond by unleashing four of the most devastating forwards in the Premier League.

City found it hard to break down the well-organised West Ham on Sunday after Angelo Ogbonna's shock opener just before half-time, but they kept their heads and equalised through Nicolas Otamendi 12 minutes after the break before David Silva volleyed home to win 2-1 with seven minutes left.

For the second time in a week, following Wednesday's clash against Southampton, Guardiola lamented that the opposition at the Etihad Stadium sat deep and tried to run down the clock in the hope of getting a draw.

"We didn't have any rhythm because (Hammers goalkeeper) Adrian was taking 30 seconds every time (he had a goal kick)," said the City manager. "They didn't want to play."

He combated West Ham's defensive strategy by replacing Danilo for striker Gabriel Jesus at half-time, and switching his system from 4-3-3 to 4-2-4, with the Brazilian alongside Sergio Aguero up front and Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane operating on the wings.

Guardiola felt the change worked and plans to use it again against teams who defend deeply.

"Today I learnt a bit like a manager to tackle it different," he said.

"We don't normally play with two strikers and two wingers but we did, so it is a lesson for us. We can play the same way."

The late goal is becoming a theme for City. In their previous three games, they won through strikes from Sterling (96th minute against Southampton, 84th against Huddersfield Town and 88th against Feyenoord).

Manchester United teams also have a reputation for scoring late, particularly during "Fergie time" - a phrase coined to describe the extra minutes of stoppage time the Red Devils would get under former manager Alex Ferguson.

"I heard about the Fergie time," Guardiola said. "What we have shown in the last games is we never give up."

Silva's effort secured City's 13th straight win in the Premier League, joining Arsenal (2001-02) and Chelsea (2016-17) for achieving the feat in a single season and they will match Arsenal's mark of 14 on the spin (set over two seasons) if they prevail at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Guardiola expects an aerial bombardment from United after seeing his side concede another goal from a set-piece.

"We spoke a lot about defending set-pieces but they are taller," he said of West Ham. "It will happen again next week against United so we have to try and concede fewer set-pieces."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Pep may use 4 to steamroll 'buses''. Print Edition | Subscribe