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Monday, June 17, 2024

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The best Manchester City XI heading into the new year

Manchester City started this season on fire as expected. The Sky Blues dominated English football last time out and secured a league double in Pep Guardiola’s second season in charge. The Catalan manager is famous for building dominant teams that run rampage on the league.

He has also assembled a killer squad at the Etihad Stadium that is tearing the Premier League apart. Let’s take a look at members of his best starting XI.

GK: Ederson

Arguably the best ball-playing goalkeeper on the planet, the Brazilian has justified his manager’s decision to seek an upgrade on Joe Hart when he took over. Since arriving from Benfica, the 25-year-old has nailed down City’s number one position as his own.

He is now the first name on Guardiola’s team sheet. His ball-playing ability makes him the first port of call in implementing the Catalan manager’s possession-based style of play.

RCB: John Stones

The Englishman featured sparingly in the record-breaking team that ran away with the league title last term. But after an inspired performance at the World Cup in the summer, he is now a bona fide member of the first XI. He has partnered Aymeric Laporte to great effect as the duo has been constant in defence in matches against top six sides as well as critical Champions League games.

His speed, agility and ball-playing skills make him almost indispensable to the former Barcelona boss. He has also emerged as an important part of the England national team setup.

LCB: Aymeric Laporte

France’ loss is proving to be Man City’s gain as the in-form defender, who could have provided sufficient cover for Les Bleus in their Nations League adventure was ignored. But he played every league game for the Sky Blues and was never on the losing side since making his debut for the club until recently against Chelsea.

Good with his feet and in the air, the 24-year-old is one of Guardiola’s most trusted players. Other center backs are rotated around him whenever the manager wants to tweak the central defence pairing. That speaks to his quality and reliability.

LWB: Fabian Delph

A fit Benjamin Mendy will have this position locked down with anyone else coming in whenever he needs a rest. Unfortunately, the Frenchman has been on the treatment table for most of his time at the club so far.

A recent knee operation ruled him out for another three months has left the manager with no other choice than to improvise. Midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko now share responsibility for the position. But it is the Englishman that is considered the better of the duo.

RWB: Cayle Walker

The former Tottenham right back has been a hit since switching London for Manchester. He is so good Brazilian Danilo, signed from Real Madrid hardly gets to play. Although his recent performances have not been great, still maintains his position. Energetic and able to run the full length of the pitch to make a pass or whip in a cross, his contributions are usually vital for the team.

CDM: Fernandinho

A true workhorse, the Brazilian is the only player in the team that seams irreplaceable. He is the rock in front of the defence that shields the back four from unrestricted attack. At 33, he should be slowing down. Not Fernie.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder is the real link between defence and attack for City. Tough tackling, good in the air, a good passer of the ball and able to score screamers, Fernandinho is the complete midfielder.

RCM: Kevin De Bruyne

Talk about complete and you are referring to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is one of the best players in the Premier League hands down and Guardiola’s not so secret weapon. Although injuries have curtailed his performance this season, his role in this team is still uniquely important.

As if to remind everyone of his special quality, he scored in his first start for the club since returning from injury last week. A sensational strike against Leicester helped the Citizens progress to the next round in the League Cup.

LCM: Bernardo Silva

Normally, David Silva should occupy this spot. But the Spanish magician is injured at the moment. In comes the man that was brought in to replace him at the club in the first place. But the Portuguese is not in the best XI just because his namesake is sidelined. He deserves every minute he gets on the pitch as he has been one of City’s most in-form players this term.

With four goals and three assists to his name, he gives the manager another viable option for goals and helping secure match wins.

LW: Leroy Sane

The German started the campaign rather slowly as he was left out of the starting XI several times, but has recovered well to make his mark in the team. The highlight of his season so far was his brace against Hoffenheim in the last game of the group stage that secured a 2-1 win and a place in the Round of 16 as group winners.

But that has by no means been his only contribution to the team. Six league goals and another seven assists in 15 appearances show that the reigning Premier League Young Player of the Year is still one of the best in the league this season.

RW: Raheem Sterling

If Kevin De Bruyne was City’s best player last term, Sterling has been the best this time around. The 24-year-old is not only the team’s top goalscorer this season but has also excelled in his overall contribution to the side. That has led to him being rewarded with a new improved contract that earns him £290,000 per week.

The subject of alleged racist abuse at Stamford Bridge recently that has not affected him one bit as he was on the scoresheet in the very next match against Everton. He has also emerged as the only player from the club to win the PFA Player of the Month award this season having been named as such for November.

CS: Sergio Aguero

The club’s record goalscorer, Aguero’s stay at the club has been due to his delivery in front of goal. Despite Guardiola’s initial skepticism about the player’s ability to adapt to his methods, the Argentine has passed every test with flying colours. Even though he has been pegged back by injury, he has still netted eight times so far.

After consistently delivering more than 20 league goals per season for several years now, his value to both the club and the manager has continued to rise. He is the preferred option to young Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus in the big games.

As such, achieving the club’s ambition to retain the league title and challenge for the Champions League will depend largely on his performance in the coming months.

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