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Manchester City

Comparing Man City’s star right-backs – numbers show that Guardiola has a selection headache



Comparing Manchester City’s new signing Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker

Premier League champions Manchester City completed the signing of Juventus defender Joao Cancelo on a six-year deal.

Cancelo, 25, has signed a contract at the Etihad Stadium until the summer of 2025 and became Manchester City’s third signing of the summer after Angelino and Rodri.

The Portugal international, who won the domestic double with Juventus in his debut season in the Serie A, was a part of the Man City squad that thrashed West Ham United 5-0 on the opening day of the Premier League season.

However, he had to watch on from the sidelines as Kyle Walker put in a terrific performance at right-back.

As things stand, Pep Guardiola has two brilliant, flying right-backs in Walker and Cancelo. Thus, it is worth comparing them and finding out the reason behind Man City’s decision to splash the cash on Cancelo.

Statistical comparison of Walker and Cancelo from 2018-19 season

In terms of the defensive numbers, Kyle Walker, who made 30 appearances for City in the Premier League last season, made 1.2 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game. He made 1.5 clearances and blocked 0.2 shots.

Cancelo, on the other hand, played only 22 games for Juventus in the Serie A as he spent a couple of months on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery.

Yet, he made 1.7 tackles and 0.6 interceptions on average. The Portuguese was dribbled past 0.9 times a game and committed 1.3 fouls per game, which doesn’t paint a great picture as far as the right-back’s defensive qualities and game-reading are concerned.

Moreover, Cancelo received six yellow cards in comparison to Walker’s three during the entire 2018/19 campaign.

As far as the offensive numbers are concerned, Walker managed just a goal and an assist. Cancelo bagged three goals and an assist, with 1.4 key passes and 2.4 dribbles per game. Walker, meanwhile, amassed 0.7 key passes and 0.5 dribbles on average.

Cancelo is a decent passer of the ball and enjoyed a pass success rate of 86.2%. Walker enjoyed a whopping passing success rate of 90.1% in the Premier League.

Looking at the numbers, it is not surprising to see that Walker enjoyed a better pass success rate than Cancelo purely because City have adopted a free-flowing possession-based approach under Pep Guardiola.

But Cancelo, who can play further forward on the right, is more creative and forward-thinking than Walker as he is comfortable getting involved in intricate, free-flowing football in the final third, meaning the Portuguese can support the likes of Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the attack.

He works tirelessly up and down the right flank and is considerably more useful in possession.

This doesn’t mean that Walker is bad by any means, but it highlights the differing profiles of the two players. The England international has improved defensively under Guardiola but he doesn’t have the dribbling ability, natural flair and vision to create opportunities for his teammates as Cancelo does.


Both Walker and Cancelo are entirely different players, with both having a diverse style of play and qualities. And this should be considered as a boon for Guardiola though, as he has two different options to use depending on the opposition. Without any second thoughts, Cancelo’s addition looks perfect.

The Portuguese full-back is one of the best in Europe, particularly in possession, and is ideal to compete with Walker for the right-back spot, something which Danilo couldn’t.

Walker’s performance in the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham shows that he is dedicated to the task and wary of City’s brand new star, Joao Cancelo.



5 Talking points from Premier League gameweek 2 including VAR drama and Norwich masterclass



Five talking points from Premier League gameweek two

Week two of the new Premier League campaign is now over, with Wolves and Manchester United settling for a 1-1 draw.

A victory for the Red Devils would have seen them become only the third side to record two straight victories this season so far, with Liverpool and Arsenal currently boasting a 100% record after champions Manchester City dropped points at home to Tottenham on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Frank Lampard is yet to win his first game as a Chelsea manager as his side were held to an exciting 1-1 draw by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Here, we take a look at five talking points from the second week of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

1. Norwich 3-1 Newcastle United:  Teemu Pukki grabs the headlines

Teemu Pukki was a revelation in the Championship last season, guiding Norwich City to top-flight promotion. And he has taken the Premier League like a duck to water, scoring four goals in two games thus far.

The Finland international scored a fantastic hat-trick against Newcastle United at the weekend, which also involved a rasping pile-driver from inside the box that Martin Dubravka had no chance to keep out.

The 29-year-old has shown what he is capable of doing and Daniel Farke will expect his marksman to keep delivering the goods consistently.

2. Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham: VAR denies Man City a late winner

The battle between Manchester City and Tottenham produced some late drama once again, courtesy of the VAR.

For the second time in four months, City saw a decisive stoppage-time goal against Tottenham snatched away by VAR, leaving them with a 2-2 draw rather than a 3-2 victory.

VAR disallowed Gabriel Jesus’ goal two minutes into stoppage time after a hand-ball earlier in the move by Aymeric Laporte.

Given the stakes are high in the Premier League, these two dropped points for Pep Guardiola could be pivotal come May.

3. Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Sadio Mane comes back to haunt the Saints

Liverpool seem to have a new talisman this season in Sadio Mane, who came back to haunt Southampton at the weekend.

After helping the Reds add the European Super Cup to the Champions League, Mane got the ball rolling for Jurgen Klopp’s men with a superb goal in first-half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino scored in the second half to hand the visitors a two-goal cushion.

A comedy of errors from Adrian in goal gifted Danny Ings his first goal of the season, but Liverpool saw the game out to earn two wins from their opening two matches.

4. Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace: John Lundstram helps the Blades to three crucial points

Any team that takes Sheffield United lightly at Bramall Lane would simply be digging its own graveyard.

Chris Wilder’s men have been impressive in the first two games, earning their first victory of the top-flight campaign against a spineless Crystal Palace side via to a second-half strike from John Lundstram. The Blades also gave a glimpse of how difficult they are going to be at home.

5. Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Frank Lampard still waiting for his first win as Chelsea boss

It has been a tough start for Frank Lampard at Chelsea, although the 41-year-old will be encouraged with the displays in the last two games after the 4-0 thrashing against Manchester United.

Chelsea started strongly and were rewarded with an early goal through Mason Mount, however, they couldn’t double their advantage or bury the game in the first half when they had the chances to do so.

That gave Leicester a chance to bounce back in the second half and they did so, equalising through Wilfred Ndidi. The Foxes have only themselves to blame for not taking more than a point out of the Bridge.

Lampard has a lot to improve if his team is to make it to the top-four but for now, he remains without a win.

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Manchester City

Manchester City vs Tottenham: 3 key battles that could decide the outcome of this epic encounter



Three key battles in Manchester City vs Tottenham

Defending Premier League champions Manchester City kicked things off in great fashion as they beat West Ham 5-0 in their opening PL fixture at the London Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side now return to Etihad and turn their attention towards a juicy fixture against Tottenham, a side that eliminated them in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. This will be a different test for Manchester City and they’ll be desperate for three points on Saturday.

Tottenham, on the other hand, also enjoyed a positive start to the new campaign as they defeated newbies Aston Villa 3-1 after coming from a goal behind. The north London side will have to be at their sublime best to beat City at the Etihad.

The duo has had some memorable encounters over the years with plenty of goals too and both could easily take the win if they get their tactics right. Both City and Spurs have real match-winners in their respective sides, but what are the key battles that could decide the game? Let’s take a look.

1. Harry Kane vs Aymeric Laporte

Harry Kane has started the new campaign very well, scoring a brace in the 3-1 win over against Aston Villa. He will undoubtedly be the danger man for Tottenham and their main avenue of attack once again.

The England striker will likely have to deal with Aymeric Laporte, who alongside John Stones helped City in keeping a clean sheet against West Ham last weekend.

Kane is arguably Premier League’s best striker at the moment and his game is about intelligent positioning and reading of the game. He is deadly in and around the box, which means that the City defenders have to be extra vigilant.

Laporte has been Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back and did very well against West Ham. The Frenchman had to contain Sebastien Haller last week but Kane will be a very different kind of test for him, and one he’ll have to be up for if his team are to take all three points.

2. Christian Eriksen vs Rodri

Christian Eriksen was left on the bench in the opening day win over Aston Villa, but his entry as a substitute changed the course of the game. His side were trailing 1-0 at home until his introduction in the second half and the Dane inspired Spurs to all three points.

Eriksen is one of the best midfielders, always having an influence going forward. With him in the team, Spurs are a different animal and that was well documented against Villa. A player who Eriksen is most likely to come up against in this game is Rodri.

Rodri made his first Premier League appearance in City colours against West Ham, controlling the tempo of the game from the base of the midfield. He was dispossessed a few times but that was not expected as all new players take time to adjust to the physical and aggressive nature of the Premier League.

With time, however, Rodri will improve and become a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. However, the Spaniard is the man who would be charged with keeping Eriksen quiet today.

3. Raheem Sterling vs Kyle Walker-Peters

Spurs have become weak at right-back following Kieran Trippier’s exit this summer. Pochettino preferred young Kyle Walker-Peters over experienced Serge Aurier on the right against Villa and the 22-year-old repaid his manager’s faith with a strong performance.

However, Walker-Peters will have to be mindful when he comes up against the dangerous Raheem Sterling, who scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 battering of West Ham.

The England international is a lynchpin in the City attack and is an excellent link-up player. He has an excellent awareness of where to position himself to pounce on the opponents’ mistake.

So Walker-Peters will have his task cut out against the nippy Sterling. The City ace will be a key supply line in his team’s attack and the Tottenham defender has to break it early on to make it difficult for the hosts.

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Dragon Feeds

Comparing Man City’s £62.8m star and Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong – has Guardiola found the right man?



Comparing Man City’s £62.8million record signing and Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong

Man City made the headlines in the summer window with the club-record £62.8million signing of Spanish international midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid, with the 23-year-old’s arrival at the Etihad, ending manager Pep Guardiola’s long and hard quest for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.

The Brazilian played a key role in City’s title-winning campaign this past season but he is expected to receive less game time next term due to his advancing years.

Over the past few years, we have seen that City haven’t hesitated to splash the cash in order to bring in top-quality players from across the continent.

However, as we have often seen from their recruitment policy, the paymasters at the Etihad have always stuck to paying the right amount for the players they need.

Image result for rodri

The fans had every reason to be disappointed as the club missed out on signing Frenkie De Jong of Ajax, who has signed for Barcelona. Nevertheless, they can heave a sigh of relief given that Rodri has finally arrived to answer their prayers.

Well, as things stand, Man City have Rodri and Barcelona have Frenkie de Jong and, while there is no direct connection between the two clubs because they play in different leagues, it is worth discussing as to who got the better deal.

Have Man City landed themselves an ideal alternative to De Jong and a good long-term replacement for Fernandinho?

With that in mind, let us compare how the likes of Rodri and De Jong fared for their respective clubs in comparison to City’s current midfield general Fernandinho.

Statistical comparison of Fernandinho, Rodri and Frenkie de Jong from 2018-19 season:-

Frenkie de Jong1.

Key:- T- tackles, I- interceptions, C- clearances, Tot- T+I+C, TP- Total passes, PS- Pass success rate, KP- Key passes, AD- Aerial duels won, AT- Progressive Runs per 90 mins, DR- Dribbles

The table above throws light on the vital stats of each player, ranging from the number of tackles, interceptions and clearances per game to the number of passes completed, attacking numbers and so on.

Also, it is worth mentioning here that a mere comparison of the numbers cannot decide as to who is better, given that the three players played in different teams, in different leagues and under completely different managerial philosophies last season.

Image result for rodri

Starting with the defensive numbers, Rodri’s total of 6.2 interventions per game last season puts him above De Jong’s 4.4 interventions and Fernandinho’s total of 5.8 per game.

Rodri completed a staggering 103 tackles in the La Liga this past season, which puts him miles above Fernandinho’s 57 and De Jong’s 54. Also, Rodri averaged an impressive 2.3 aerial duels in the La Liga, although Fernandinho still edges ahead with 2.6 per game in the Premier League.

Looking at the number of passes played by each player, De Jong certainly tops the list in that aspect, which is not surprising given that Ajax adopted a free-flowing possession-based approach under Erik ten Haag. Fernandinho is closer to those numbers with 70.7 passes per game, while Rodri is way behind with just 56.7.

However, those numbers largely stem from the tactical differences between Atletico and Ajax, meaning that the La Liga outfit’s more defence-oriented and direct brand of football could probably have caused Rodri to play fewer passes as compared to the two other players.

Image result for fernandinho

However, the most important thing is that there is little to separate between Rodri, De Jong and Fernandinho when it comes to the pass accuracy rates.

Both De Jong and Rodri boast of a pass success rate of 91.1%, numbers which put them ahead of Fernandinho’s 87.5%, although we all know that those kinds of accuracy rates are considered as eye-watering for central midfielders.

The attacking numbers

The attacking prowess is exactly where major differences lie. As witnessed during Ajax’s incredible run to the semi-finals the Champions League last season, De Jong showcased a level of maturity that defied his tender years not only in terms of positioning, composure, movement, and defensive acumen, but the Dutchman also outsmarted the opposition with his intelligence, creativity from the deeper areas and ability to carry the ball forward with drive and determination.

Rodri, on the other hand, offered little going further up the pitch and any follower of Spanish football would not dare to argue with the fact that he is by no means an overly creative player.

Yes, his positional sense, passing abilities and tactical awareness make him similar to Sergio Busquets but he doesn’t have the dribbling ability and the natural flair to create space in the midfield as De Jong does.

Related image

Coming back to the numbers, De Jong averaged 3.69 progressive runs per 90 minutes last season, figures which put him head and shoulders above the likes of Fernandinho and Rodri with 1.68 and 0.57 respectively.

Also, De Jong’s 2 dribbles per game are better than Fernandinho’s 0.7 and Rodri’s 0.6 quite comfortably. Let us not forget that Rodri, though quite agile and athletic, stands at 6ft 3in, so one would not expect him to move as quickly as De Jong does.

Barring the difference in styles of the three players involved in the discussion, those numbers also have a lot to do with the tactical differences between the respective teams, in the sense that Guardiola and Simeone like their deep midfielders to stay positionally disciplined and not commit too far forward, whilst Ten Haag seemed to adopt a completely different approach.

Image result for rodri

Man City were happy to let Fernandinho sit back deep and dictate the play given the abundance of quality in their attacking ranks. Keeping that in mind, it is not surprising to see that De Jong registered 1.5 key passes as compared to Rodri’s 0.5 and Fernandinho’s 0.8. 


Whether Man City or Barcelona have got the better deal is something that only time will reveal when de Jong and Rodri take the field for their new clubs this season.

However, as evident from the statistical comparison, the fans on the blue half of Manchester have every reason to be confident that the Spaniard can, indeed, fit into Fernandinho’s shoes.

Yes, De Jong would have been a more dynamic prospect given his creativity and natural flair but as mentioned earlier, Guardiola likes his central defensive midfielder to stay positionally disciplined and not necessarily contribute to the attack too much.

Image result for rodri

While the entire stability of Guardiola’s 4-3-3 system depends on the effectiveness of the No.6 in the middle of the park, the Citizens largely rely on the two attack-minded midfielders on either side to shoulder the attacking responsibilities and support the front trio.

Hence, it is clear that Man City already have loads of quality as far as their options in the final third are concerned, which is exactly why Rodri’s lack of creativity should not bother them too much.

Nevertheless, the Spaniard will be expected to play a key role for the Citizens in the Premier League this term, as Guardiola looks to make it a hat-trick of league triumphs.

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