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    FA Cup Special- How Norwich City Can Beat Manchester City: A Tactical Overview

    By Chris Lincoln

    Norwich City face a difficult task against Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City on Saturday in the Third Round of the FA Cup. The team from Lancashire find themselves second in the league, progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League and competing in the semi-finals of the League Cup. We take a look at the style of play of Manchester City and work out just how Norwich City can progress to the Fourth Round.

    Team Selection
    With Manchester City having played on Wednesday in an important League Cup semi-final against Everton and with a midweek fixture next week, it would be difficult to second guess Manuel Pellegrini's team selection for Saturday's encounter. Fringe players such as Fernando, Martin Demichelis, Fabian Delph, Wilfried Bony, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jesus Navas will all be pushing for starts. Alex Neil will have to ensure he prepares his side for a variety of different players in the opposition line-up. 

    No matter who is selected for the visitors on Saturday, Manchester City's style of play rarely deviates from fixture to fixture. Starting from defence, the right back and left back like to push forward at every opportunity, as can be seen with Gael Clichy below.

    Gael Clichy getting forward

    The full backs are able to do this as the defensive midfielder slots in between the two centre backs as the pivot from defence to midfield and to provide protection for when Manchester City rarely lose the ball in the centre of midfield. Whoever plays up front for Norwich City, whether it be Dieumerci Mbokani or Cameron Jerome, could be tasked with pressuring the defensive midfielder so he does not have an easy pass from defence to midfield.

    Fernandinho dropping between the centre backs

    It is in midfield where Norwich will have to work extremely hard. The wide players, who could be Robbie Brady, Nathan Redmond or Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, are likely to be preoccupied with the flying full backs so the central midfielders will have to be wary of all the movement around them. The likes of David Silva (below) are experts at finding new spaces and swapping roles with their fellow midfield players. One man who is perhaps easier to mark is Yaya Toure, but if he is given any sort of space he is capable of creating something from nothing in a split second. 

    David Silva floating around to receive the ball

    The striker's provide different threats to the Norwich City defence. Sergio Aguero, as pictured below, likes to drift out onto the right wing, so Martin Olsson will have to communicate well with his centre backs to keep the Argentine under wraps. This movement allows the midfielders to create runs into the box and is difficult to stop with the way City pass and move so fluidly and efficiently. Wilfried Bony would provide a different problem. Although he will stay in a more natural number 9 role between the two centre backs, the Ivorian is strong and powerful, thus meaning the likes of Sebastian Bassong, Ryan Bennett or Russell Martin will have to hold firm.

    Sergio Aguero drifting wide to create space

    Manchester City are likely to dominate possession as they do against most teams, so Norwich will have to take care of the ball when they reclaim it. The difficulty for the  is that their midfielders will be required to track back and defend, thus meaning they will have to run further to support the lone striker. Everton struggled in the first 30 minutes of Wednesday's match against Manchester City because they launched the ball up to Romelo Lukaku too quickly before the midfielders could support the lone striker in attack. The likes of Jonny Howson, Wes Hoolahan, Alex Tettey, Graham Dorrans and Gary O'Neil will have to look to get on their ball and play patiently.

    Manchester City's weakness this season has certainly been in defence. Neither Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala or Martin Demichelis have looked particularly strong at the back, but they are good in the air, as Lukaku found out when he tried to play off the shoulder of Mangala. Yet the defenders can be guilty of being unorganised and looking nervy. Everton's opening goal was proof of that disorganisation, with no Manchester City defender doing the basic role of following the ball in from a rebound.

    Manchester City defenders not following in off a rebound

    The Final Word
    Norwich are capable of overturning Manchester City on Saturday. Their midfielders will have to be prepared to work extremely hard to cover the ground of tracking back and supporting the lone striker. If the defence and midfield can stay organised and communicate go pick up the runs of the Manchester City attacking players, Norwich will have every chance of stealing a goal and progressing to the 4th Round. 

    Pictures from Sky Sports and Norwich City FC
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    Item Reviewed: FA Cup Special- How Norwich City Can Beat Manchester City: A Tactical Overview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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