Control and limiting chances are more important to Manchester City than clean sheets

Control of the game and not conceding chances is more important to Manchester City than clean sheets. Following Saturday’s draw with Chelsea Pep Guardiola and Bernardo Silva have explained what the world champions value more than clean sheets.

Manchester City failed to control the game against Chelsea

Speaking in the aftermath of Manchester City’s draw with Chelsea Bernardo Silva explained why the champions weren’t satisfied with their performance against Chelsea. City’s Portuguese midfielder explained that the champions found themselves in a game they didn’t want to be in. He explained: “The rhythm was not right and the patience with the ball. We needed to put more pressure on Chelsea – that’s what the first half lacked – it wasn’t good enough for our standards. We needed to play our game which is not a game of transitions, it’s a game of controlling the rhythms of the game. If you play in a game of transitions – any team with quality – it’s 50/50 and we don’t want that. We let it happen.”

The ability to control games is a crucial feature of Manchester City’s success. It formed a vital component of their treble success last season. There were times when the opposition couldn’t touch the ball as Manchester City monopolized possession. It was this trait that was a key part of City’s success last campaign.

It was also evident against Everton earlier this month in City’s 2-nil win at the Etihad. Despite not being at their fluent best City successfully controlled the game against Everton despite being frustrated going forward. Their control of the game laid the foundation for an Erling Haaland brace to seal a vital three points. It was crucial in countering Everton’s strength from set pieces.

Manchester City also showed how vital it is to their success in their 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen. At times their Champions League Round of 16 opponents were reduced to bystanders as Pep Guardiola’s side controlled the game to come away with a crucial victory.

Guardiola explains that not conceding chances is what he asks of his team

Speaking before his team faces Brentford tonight Pep Guardiola explained how he doesn’t demand clean sheets from his team. He explained that their focus is on not conceding chances instead. The City manager explained: “The players know it but I don’t go to them and say ‘Today clean sheets, clean sheets, clean sheets. If you say ‘clean sheets, clean sheets’ they forget to play and forget defending and forget what they have to do. What we have to do is play better and better and better and concede few and attack better and create more chances.”

Guardiola also explained that when Manchester City do concede it is a chance to improve. He added: “The average to concede few chances is the most important thing from my point of view but when we concede goals, we have to improve it. The goal is avoidable and hopefully next time it doesn’t happen.”


The comments from Bernardo Silva and Pep Guardiola do give an insight into what Manchester City aim to do in every game. While clean sheets are important to their success the ability to control games and limit their opponent is valued more highly. It forms a tremendous foundation for the treble winners to build their success.

A by-product of Manchester City’s control of games is keeping a clean sheet. The more City controls the game and press their opponents up the pitch it plays into their hands. As alluded to by Bernardo Silva if the press isn’t completed at City’s high standards it can expose their defence against quality opposition. That was evident in the first half of their draw with Chelsea at the weekend.

It will be interesting to see if Manchester City are back to their high standards against Brentford tonight. It may go a long way in deciding a game against a tricky opponent in Brentford.

Tags Bernardo Silva Brentford Chelsea English Premier League Everton FC Copenhagen Manchester City Pep Guardiola