Monday Pressure Shift: Holistic leaders City share the burden, throw down gauntlet to the rest

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The runaway Premier League leaders proved once more that they have so many star performers that their fortunes will not depend on any individual

Manchester City were pounced upon by the British media, ridiculed for the cringe-inducing management buzzword they used to outline their plans for world domination.

The club, it insisted, had "a need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football". The reaction perhaps said more about the country’s commentators than it did about the direction City were taking under the likes of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain.

Introducing a coherent approach from top to bottom seemed a perfectly logical approach for an organisation seeking to conquer the bizarrely schizophrenic world of elite-level football.

And on Sunday, as City shrugged aside rivals United in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, they did so in the most holistic of manners.

Because, in what has become a theme of their remarkable season so far, this was a victory that was secured by the most coherent of teams.

There was no single match-winner as Pep Guardiola led his side to a 2-1 win that saw them make it 14 PL victories in a row – equalling Arsenal's run between February and August 2002, the most by a team in a single English top-flight season.

City are completely dominating the Goal Pressure Index, presented by Sure and powered by Opta data – and they’ve done so by sharing the burden.

While United fans were left to regret the absence of the suspended Paul Pogba and the below-par showing from star striker Romelu Lukaku, City eventually strolled to all three points with little regard for the fact that their star man, Kevin De Bruyne, had an uncharacteristically off-day.

There was no John Stones either. Benjamin Mendy is still missing. Gabriel Jesus flattered to deceive and Sergio Aguero didn’t even see a minute of action.

And yet still City dominated from the outset, pinning United back to an extent rarely seen from the PL’s most successful side at their very own Theatre of Dreams.

The Pressure Index’s top performer this season, David Silva, opened the scoring on 43 minutes. The Spain international’s six PL goal involvements against United have all come at Old Trafford (three goals, two assists). One of the all-time PL greats came up big once more, on the biggest of stages.

Defender Nicolas Otamendi and goalkeeper Ederson then combined to gift United a shock equaliser just two minutes later - Otamendi bamboozled his colleague Fabien Delph by jumping underneath a high-ball to leave Marcus Rashford in on goal, while Ederson then bizarrely darted away from his net, leaving the United forward an open target in which to nestle a low shot.

The surprise equaliser arrived at ‘the worst time to concede’, right on half-time. But still City weren’t fazed, collectively nor individually. City players now make up five of the league's top 10 Pressure Index performers this season.

Manchester City Pressure Index

And they returned in the second period hardly missing a beat, immediately resuming their dominance. United would go on to post a 35% possession figure, their lowest at Old Trafford in the PL since 2003/04 (when Opta started collecting this data).

Otamendi then made amends for his previous misdemeanour by pouncing to fire what proved the winner, netting his fourth goal in 15 PL games this season, having scored just two in his previous 60 league outings.

And then Ederson stepped into the fore, making a miraculous double-save just as United looked set to draw level once again.

City would spend the final 10 minutes effortlessly keeping the ball in the corner of United’s half, waiting calmly for the whistle that would move them a remarkable 11 points clear.

The Premier League title is now City’s to lose, success dependent only on how they handle the pressure of the second half of the season. And the burden will be shared throughout the whole squad.

The pressure has now been shifted squarely to the chasing pack, demanding they fight to stay in a race that already looks run.

The Sure Pressure Index

No one has ever been able to measure Premier League pressure... Until now!

Posted by Goal.com on Monday, August 7, 2017

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