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Defensive trio good for Manchester City

Thursday, November 09, 2017

LONDON - With Manchester City scoring at will and playing some bewitching attackingfootball, it has been easy to overlook the contribution made by their three most defensive outfield players.

Fernandinho, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are never likely to hog the headlines in a team that has plundered 52 goals in all competitions and features flamboyant playmakers Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva behind deadly finishers such as Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

Yet statistics suggest they hold a valid claim to being the three most important players in Pep Guardiola's squad, following an unbeaten start to the season that has left City eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Their record of conceding just 11 goals in 17 matches in all competitions this season is impressive enough on its own, yet the argument gathers pace when you consider their contributions to City's domination of possession and attacks.

Argentine centre back Otamendi, for example, has had more touches in the Premier League and Champions League combined than any other City player this season, with England centre back Stones second and Brazil midfielder Fernandinho fourth behind De Bruyne.

It is a similar story with passing. Otamendi is once again at the top of the charts for passes attempted, ahead of Fernandinho in second place with Stones in third.

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