Football Features

Man Utd vs Man City: tactics, formations & line ups explained

By Ben Green

Published: 15:49, 22 April 2019

Manchester City make the short journey to Old Trafford on Wednesday looking to clinch victory against rivals Manchester United and climb back to the top of the Premier League table.

Pep Guardiola has already conceded that any slip ups, even by “one inch”, will be enough to see Liverpool claim a first top-flight title since 1990.

But in adversaries Man Utd, the Citizens face a team very much on the brink of collapse with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side having lost six of their last eight matches.

Ahead of the blockbuster bout, Statman Dave has tackled all of the major talking points…


City are expected to play at full tilt on Wednesday, so the hosts will need to find a way of stifling their opposition, otherwise another drubbing could be on the cards.

To combat the insatiable attacking threat of City, Solskjaer will need to tighten up at the back and solidify a defence that conceded three against Barcelona and four against Everton.

Going forward, the Red Devils will need to take inspiration from the performances of Spurs in recent weeks if they are to have any chance of getting a result.

The partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford will be key, while Paul Pogba must play a Christian Eriksen role by dropping deep, collecting the ball, and spraying passes over the top.

That means City’s backline will need to be alert; space between each defender will need to be more compressed, while Fernandinho must drop back during transitional phases.


United have capitulated playing a 4-3-1-2 against Barca and 4-3-3 against the Toffees, so a 3-5-2 may be the way to go, especially against an attack as devastating as City’s.

The last time Solskjaer utilised a three-at-the-back system was against Barca in the 1-0 home defeat, so the more compact approach may be the way forward.

Guardiola will likely stick to his 4-3-3 formation, which provides Sergio Aguero – who has nine goals against United – with plenty of service in the final third.

Line ups

In the 3-5-2, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof could be expected to play right and left centre-back respectively with Chris Smalling through the middle.

This will allow United to get the ball out from the back quickly, while also offering the requisite protection for David de Gea. Pogba will drop deep to collect the ball and dictate the play, while Fred will stay deep and anchor the midfield.

Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard will make lung-busting runs from midfield – looking to stretch the defence and create space.

City’s 4-3-3 will allow Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva to cut in and create from the flanks, while John Stones and Aymeric Laporte will look to thwart anything United manage to throw at them.

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