David Moyes believes that Manchester City are the most attacking side he has come up against in the Premier League.
The Sunderland boss watched Pep Guardiola’s side in action against Monaco and Huddersfield as they racked up 10 goals, and thinks the way Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling play is reminiscent of the Barcelona side he has managed against.
Moyes secured a famous win over the Catalan giants as manager of Real Sociedad, keeping a clean sheet despite having just 27% possession in the game.
He knows a similarly excellent rearguard will be needed tomorrow if bottom club Sunderland are to land an unlikely result against City at the Stadium of Light (4pm kick-off).
Moyes said: “I came up against Barcelona, and they played those attack-minded players.
“I’ve not seen it in the Premier League quite at the level [of City].
“At Barcelona, it was Neymar wide and Messi wide, and you’ll probably find, and I mean really wide, old-fashioned chalk on your boots wide.
“Anybody can notice that in the way Sane plays and the way Sterling has played recently.
“But they’ve also got a lot of intricate play through the middle because of Silva, De Bruyne and Aguero – they’re very good at mixing the way they play up.”
That win over Barcelona was one of the high points of Moyes’ time in San Sebastian, falling to a 2-0 defeat later in the 2014/15 season.
At that stage, Barcelona were under the tutelage of Luis Enrique, with Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola in his second season at Bayern Munich.
Barcelona’s style changed gradually under Enrique, but Moyes feels there are similarties in how the two give their wide players so much attacking freedom.
With Kevin De Bruyne the engine in midfield, City arguably have the quickest side in the league and Moyes is wary of his team over-committing tomorrow.
The Sunderland manager said: “You go up the pitch and you can leave yourself a little bit short defensively because of their speed, being too high up the pitch.
“But if you don’t, you may allow them too much of the ball, so a balance between those two is what we have to find.
“We make to sure we’re in the right positions defensively when they have the ball.”
Moyes concedes that Manchester City have their defensive frailties, but he does not expect it to make his team’s task any easier.
He said: “I think what happens is, everyone is saying about the vulnerability of Manchester City defensively. I think anybody watching would see it, but they’re still scoring more goals than the opposition, because of the quality of their forward players.
“We’ve got to keep those forward players quiet and use every opportunity we’ve got to try and hurt them at the other end.”