Guardiola explains Man City half-time substitutions after starting with experimental system against Chelsea
- Champions struggled early on in west London
- Altered tactical approach at the interval
- Saw Mahrez net winning goal in second-half
WHAT HAPPENED? The reigning Premier League champions ground out a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, with Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez stepping off the bench to combine for the only goal of the game. Prior to that, Guardiola had introduced Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji in place of Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo at the interval, with City finding themselves overrun in the opening 45 minutes after changing their shape in a tactical approach that saw Cancelo line up on the right wing and Rodri fill a hybrid role in defence and midfield.
WHAT THEY SAID: Explaining why that blueprint was ripped up at half-time, Guardiola told Sky Sports afterwards: “We didn’t play good in the first-half. I admire and said thank you for his effort to Joao, playing not in his position. We decided to put a line-up with players that if they decided to play five at the back, we’d play a little bit differently. In the second-half we were miles, miles better in all departments. It’s a big result for us.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: City were fortunate to find themselves level at the break, after seeing Chelsea dominate proceedings in a half where they hit the post and responded positively to early injury setbacks, but Guardiola’s men boast a useful knack of picking up positive results.
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WHAT NEXT? City, who have closed to within five points of leaders Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table, are set to face Chelsea again on Sunday when they lock horns at the Etihad Stadium in the third round of the FA Cup.