Following on from yesterday's comparison of Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini here on Bleacher Report, today we take a statistical look at the two managers and compare the Italian's final season in charge at Manchester City with the current campaign.
While the mood among the players at City certainly appears to have improved under Pellegrini, what do the figures tell us? Opta have provided us with data for the 38 Premier League matches played last season and the 33 played thus far under the Chilean, and there are some clear differences that make for interesting reading.
It's been fairly obvious that Pellegrini has added a new dimension to City's attack this season, and the statistics bear that out. They've scored a total of 88 in their 33 league games this campaign—a stark contrast to the 66 in 38 Mancini's City managed last season. City now score an average of 2.67 league goals per game, compared with 1.74 last season.
They are averaging more shots per game (up from 12.8 to 13.4), and their ratio of shots leading to goals has also increased (from 13.6 per cent to 19.9 per cent).
There's now a focus on attack and a ruthlessness previously absent.
The freedom and fluidity Pellegrini has encouraged has worked, and City are now a more potent threat going forward. It's made for more entertainment, and it's in keeping with the style of football Txiki Begiristain, City's director of football, envisaged when he took up his position at the club.
In terms of passing stats, there's little between the last two campaigns. City's average number of passes per game has gone up slightly, from 527.9 per game to 539.9, as has their overall pass completion rate (85 percent to 85.8 percent).
Similarly, passes in the final third are almost identical. This season, City boast a final-third pass completion rate of 76.1 percent, compared with the 76.3 percent managed in Mancini's final season in charge.
Arguably the most surprising statistic is in the crossing department. Under Mancini, a big criticism was City's lack of a Plan B when their narrow system failed to find a way through stubborn opposition. Pellegrini brought Jesus Navas in to add width and has also played with James Milner, David Silva and Samir Nasri in wide positions throughout the season.
City have undoubtedly had more width, but the number of crosses they have delivered hasn't risen too significantly. They've gone from an average of 22.6 per game last season to 23.5 this season, with cross completion up from 24 percent to 24.5.
As a result of City's newfound attacking dimension, they have become easier to score against than they were under Mancini, a manager known for his "build from the back" philosophy. Vincent Kompany said on his recent Match of the Day appearance that City now concede more space, and that, as a result, he finds himself doing more defending than previously, and the Opta data confirms his analysis.
City conceded 34 goals throughout the last campaign, yet they have already conceded the same number this time with five matches left to play. Mancini was overseeing less than a goal per game (0.89), whereas City now concede at a rate of 1.03 per game. It's a relatively small increase, though, given the improvement in an attacking sense, and it proves City are better defensively than some appear prepared to give them credit for.
Interestingly, the amount of shots City face each game has remained relatively stable, which suggests that they are defending well as a unit, despite an obvious pursuit of more goals. On average, City have faced 8.2 shots per game under Pellegrini (3.4 have been on target), which is barely different to the 7.6 per game they faced last season (3.1 on target).
They have had to make 20 tackles per game this season, up from 18 in the last campaign, and they now make less fouls than they did previously (12.4 per game last season, down to 10.7 thus far in 2013-14).
It seems clear from the Opta data that Pellegrini has made differences to this City side, some subtle and some more obvious. The shift to an attacking emphasis is clear, with City far more potent going forward, a move that has affected their defensive game, but not as much as many people think.
With injuries to key players, particularly the three significant layoffs Sergio Aguero has had, to improve City so much in an attacking sense is credit to Pellegrini. With the right additions in the summer to bolster the squad and improve his defence, City should be better placed to maintain their best form throughout next season.
All stats provided by Opta.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_
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