|MANCHESTER UNITED 1999||ARSENAL ‘INVINCIBLES’||MANCHESTER CITY 2017-18|
At present, a lot of conversation is about whether the current Manchester City team is the best to compete in top flight football, firstly, we believe that Manchester City have to win the title to be deemed as ‘successful’ despite their success record this season they could still not win the league if they go through a ‘purple patch’ (highly unlikely I know!).
When looking at the ‘top flight’ history, I feel it would be too difficult to judge prior to the Premiership years as the style of play and resources available to clubs has dramatically changed post 1991-92. Below we will compare Manchester City to the 2 most successful teams in the modern era; Manchester United 1999 and the Arsenal 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’.
The similarity between the two Manchester teams is the insatiable quality and confidence that they had when playing in the final 3rd, United in 1999 scored 97 goals and Manchester City currently have 60! United averaging 2.55 goals per game and City currently averaging 3.15 whereas, in Arsenals 2003-04 season they scored 73 averaging 1.92.
By no means can it be considered that Arsenal had a ‘weaker’ forward line than either of the two Manchester clubs, with Henry, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljungberg in the forward areas they had the quality of technique and speed of play to dispose of any defence put up against them
The strength within all 3 teams is certainly shown within the defensive stats, who could argue that Campbell, Cole, Stam, Neville etc not be competing with the current crop of players to be in the greatest Premiership team of all time. Arsenal impressively only conceded a goal at a ratio of 0.68 per game, United at 1.18 and City currently at 0.63. Manchester City in particular have evolved defensively with the development of Stones, Mangala and Otamendi over the last 12 months, players who have previously been ‘written off’ as not having the physical quality to play in the Premier league. With the introduction of Ederson, Walker and Delph (albeit as a replacement) their defence now has a formidable strength. United and Arsenals back 4 had everything, a true leader in Stam and Campbell, an athletic defensive partner in Johnson and Toure alongside full backs who could both cause problems in attack and defend in Lauren, Cole, Neville and Irwin.
All 3 have a similar formula to their teams which includes:
Goalkeeper who is as good with his feet and communication skills as with his shot stopping
Full Backs who are athletic, strong 1v1 both in offence and defence
Centre backs who are leaders, have the ability to match physical presence with athleticism
Holding style Midfielder, of course Keane wasn’t your stereotypical Kante but out of Scholes and himself he sat deeper within the midfield. Arsenal with Silva and City with Fernandinho both have/had a player who broke up the oppositions link play from midfield to forwards
Forward players, each team have/had their unique style of forward play, however, each possessed the ability to dictate the speed of play and on the counter attack become punishing.
Central Striker What more can be said about Aguero, Cole, Yorke and Henry. Movement, pace, strong link play and natural goal scoring ability.
So it’s left to ask; Using the players above, What would be your formation and which players would you pick if you became manager?
Here is our team at Football Network UK, please post your team on our Facebook post. Good luck!
Neville Stam Campbell Cole
Scholes Silva (City)
De Bruyne Giggs