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How can Manchester City be beaten in the Carabao Cup Final?

Drew Goodsell | 22 February 2019

Chelsea looking to avenge thrashing in last meeting

Manchester City face Chelsea in the Wembley showpiece on Sunday afternoon, with the Cityzen’s clear favourites to win their first trophy of the season.

Only two weeks ago, City thumped Chelsea 6-0, with Maurizio Sarri’s men being blown away and four down in only 25 minutes.

Sarri will need to change this approach to the game this time, but what can he do differently? We look at how City have been beaten recently and what can be adopted by the Blues to give them a better chance of winning silverware…

Allow City possession    

It sounds like a crazy game play to allow the free-flowing Manchester City side the possession they crave, but if you only give them possession and focus on closing the gaps in the defence, it’ll all be meaningless.

The City squad is full of stars who like to slot the ball through the eye of a needle, and the only way to stop that is to close the holes. Chelsea adopted a high-press in their 6-0 drubbing, and it regularly created the spaces that Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva thrive on.

At times, all three of Chelsea’s central midfielders were drawn to one City player to restrict their options. It didn’t have the desired effect, it just created gaping holes that Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero could run into and finish their chances.

Newcastle United, Leicester City and Crystal Palace all beat City with less than 35% possession. Chelsea tried to go toe-to-toe in the possession game, ending up with 44% but crucially, a 6-0 hammering.

Apply Conte’s counter-attacking tactics

Eden Hazard openly criticised the style of play former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte made his side play, sitting back deep and hitting teams on the counter.

While it wasn’t pretty on the eye, it was effective. Under Conte, Chelsea managed to beat City on their own turf with three explosive counter attacking goals.

Gonzalo Higuain would need to have one of his best games hold-up play wise, and draw defenders away from the wings to allow Hazard, Willian, Pedro or Callum Hudson-Odoi to use their pace to drag them into the City box.

Take their chances

If you look back to the game at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago, you can’t say that Chelsea didn’t have chances.

12 shots, four of which were on target, but no goals. Ederson may have kept a few out, but were they far enough away from the keeper to give the Blues a chance of getting on the score sheet?

Sarri’s side looked more clinical on Thursday night against Malmo. The first half didn’t throw up too many opportunities for Chelsea, but in the second half, they took the chances they had and ended up netting three times, and arguably should have been more.

Newcastle only had two shots on target against City, but took both chances and won 2-1. Palace had three chances and scored all three.

They’ll still head into the Wembley clash as 19/4 underdogs, but a switch up of the system from a stubborn Sarri could pay off, and gift the Italian his first trophy as a manager.

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