Manchester City backed to thrive without a striker

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Manchester City have been backed to become even more dangerous as they face up to life without a first-team striker.

Manuel Pellegrini went into the Palace game with somewhat of a selection headache with Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic all out through injury.

The Premier League champions were forced into using James Milner as a false nine in the 3-0 win against Crystal Palace, and former midfielder Owen Hargeaves thinks City will thrive without a recognised striker.

Hargreaves looks to the positives

Speaking about City's striking crisis before the 3-0 win over Palace, Hargreaves told BT Sport: "This could work in City’s favour. They will need a target man who they can hit, and who can hold the ball up, and I’m sure they will find a solution to that.

The Milner experiment produced little in the first half, but when he swapped placed with David Silva at the break, the Spaniard showed how it was done.

Goal burden shared across the team

Losing the goals of Aguero, Dzeko and Jovetic should prove crippling to any Premier League outfit, but Hargreaves is confident his old team can cope without the trio.

Playing with a false nine allowed City to dominate the centre of the park, and their former midfielder believes they can win the game from midfield with the talent at their disposal.

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"It probably suits them better to have Yaya and Lampard coming from deep positions, with Fernando for protection – they can both pick their spot when they bomb on," Hargreaves said.

"Yaya Toure scored 20-odd goals last season and Frank Lampard is probably the best goalscoring midfielders in Premier League history.

“When you throw Samir Nasri and David Silva onto the mix, there are a
lot of goals among those players."

Silva shows his class

Hargreaves went on to reserve special praise for Saturday's matchwinner, Silva, saying: "A player like Silva is so intelligent that it is amazing.

"I remember in training, he would pop up in spaces and you would think that he is so small and slight that he couldn’t get away from you, but he was so smart that wherever the space was, he would go and find it."

More used to providing assists than applying the finishing touch, Silva's double paved the way for a three-goal victory over struggling Palace, with Toure grabbing a late third.

Big games coming up

While City fans will hardly be waxing lyrical about a win over a team only outside the relegation zone on goal difference, but Hargreaves is certain that limiting the number of strikers on the pitch is the key to success for Pellegrini and co.

The two-time Champions League winner said: "In the long term this is how City should play in big games. It’s easy against smaller teams to play a 4-4-2 because you can just run them over, but against bigger sides it has been one of the main reasons they
haven’t progressed.

"In big games in Europe they have also played two strikers at times, as they did against Roma at home, when again they didn’t have control in midfield.

“When they went to Roma last week they only had one striker and they played three in central midfield and two in wide areas – and it suited them perfectly, especially in Europe.

"No teams in Europe play with two strikers, as you lose the battle in central midfield."

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David Silva
Owen Hargreaves
Manchester City
Premier League

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