“The reason why [our defensive record is so good] is because 67 per cent of the time we have the ball,” he said.
“This is the main reason. The main reason is that we have the ball. If you have the ball as much as possible then the opponent does not have the ball.”
Guardiola makes it sound so simple. And it’s not just on the defensive side of the game where having the ball is so beneficial.
“Of course, the opponent can score from set pieces or a counter-attack but the more that you have the ball the more chances you will have to score a goal,” he added.
Graphic visualises PL possession
Guardiola’s City have dominated the possession charts since his arrival in the Premier League in 2016 and it’s no different this season – the reigning champions average 67.3% possession in their matches, per WhoScored.
But whereabouts on the pitch are they utilising their possession?
The Athletic’s John Muller has written an interesting piece that explores whereabouts on the pitch every team in England’s top flight is having more of the ball than their opponents.
Included in the article is a graphic that visualises the point. It demonstrates possession by zone, giving a glimpse into whereabouts every team sees more of the ball.
The red areas are for the team in question, the blue areas are their opponents.
City’s pitch is, unsurprisingly, just a sea of red. On the other hand, Burnley, who are averaging just 39.2% possession in the league this season, is predominantly blue.
Who controls territory in the Premier League? pic.twitter.com/RU0JNzL0eM— John Muller (@johnspacemuller) February 8, 2022
What does the graphic tell us?
There’s an awful lot that can be taken away from the graphic. Some teams, including Arsenal and Manchester United, seem content with giving up possession in their defensive flanks so that their full-backs can push higher.
Newcastle prefer to attack down their left – through Allan Saint-Maximin – while Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are competent in every area except for in central attacking positions.
Fans on Twitter were drawing their own conclusions.