Opinion: Will the 4-4-2 diamond formation suit Manchester City more?
Manchester City played out a shocking draw against Tottenham Hotspur in front of their home fans at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were not enough for Pep Guardiola's men to seal the win as an early Erik Lamela strike and a late Lucas Moura header rescued Spurs and salvaged a point for them.
Although Gabriel Jesus did get a goal in the dying minutes of the game, it was disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as the ball had clipped Aymeric Laporte's hands in the build-up.
It was not the first time that a match between Manchester City and Tottenham ended in a drama involving the Video Assitant Referee (VAR). Spurs again enjoyed the benefit of the system as they did in the Champions League last season.
Manchester City, the dominant side throughout the game, failed to see it through and therefore had to be content with just one point. Manager Guardiola was surely gutted, especially after the touchline row he had with star striker Aguero after the latter protested after being taken off.
The Citizens enjoy fluidity in their wings which is supported by their flying fullbacks but perhaps the time has come for them to try the diamond formation. Agreed that the likes of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva might struggle to come to terms with this new system, but it can also see a revival of sorts in the Premier League champions' midfield.
It can be resurrected again, given that they possess quality midfielders in their roster like Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Fernandinho and new signing Rodri. Guardiola can express his football philosophy a bit more by articulating to his players that pace is not the be-all-end-all matter in football. Distribution can play a big role and City may thrive in such a formation.
So, how is the starting lineup going to look like if City adopts the 4-4-2 diamond formation? The defenders remain the same but in midfield, Rodri plays the lone role as the defending midfielder and Gundogan and de Bruyne hold the central midfielder positions to ensure good distribution and vision. Sterling can be made to play as the attacking midfielder behind strikers Aguero and Jesus.
An issue which arises here is that Guardiola likes to play only one striker in his starting lineup so that could mean that only one of either Aguero or Jesus would be accommodated in the side. If both play at the same time, City will be left with no center forwards on the bench and that can be detrimental to the side in the long run if injuries take place. Therefore, Sterling could play alongside Aguero as the second striker while Bernardo Silva takes his place as the attacking midfielder.
The only negative that this offers is that Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez (along with the injured Leroy Sane) may find it difficult to adjust themselves. Given how successful they have been with the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation - which banks heavily on wingers and fullbacks - 4-4-2 diamond formation might take a little adjusting to.
However, City pride themselves on pace and even their center backs add to the fluidity of the side by pressing high and fast. Therefore, this is only food for thought. The blue team from Manchester are better off with their current 4-3-3 formation but a change could also bring a turn around to their fortunes.