Manchester City supporters have been making a lot of noise in the Transfer Tavern in recent times after seeing their team begin their Premier League title defence in the best possible way on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s men were handed a tough-looking assignment against Arsenal on the opening weekend of the 2018/19 season, yet the Citizens produced an excellent display to see off Unai Emery’s team 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Goals either side of half time from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva secured a routine victory for the North West outfit, who thus got their quest for a fourth Premier League title in eight seasons underway in fine fashion.
And the performance certainly delighted several City fans up and down the country, and while goal-scorers Sterling and Silva unsurprisingly got much of the plaudits for their efforts in North London in netting for the Citizens, there was one man in particular who stood out and as such was their unsung hero against the Gunners, namely £49.5 million-rated (as per Transfermarkt) defender John Stones.
The England international, who enjoyed an excellent World Cup with his country during the summer, was given the nod by Guardiola ahead of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi, this all despite falling behind the duo in the pecking order in the second half of last season.
And the centre back produced an outstandingly assured performance to help lay the foundations for a City victory on Sunday, what with the 24-year-old concluding the match with a 93% pass success rate, which was the joint-highest of any player on the pitch.
And having made more accurate passes than anyone else (67), Stones clearly did his bit to help launch attacks from the back and thus provide the platform for the front players to perform – he only misplaced five passes during the entire 90 minutes.
But it wasn’t just on the ball, which we all know is a strength of the 24-year-old, in which the Englishman excelled, but he also showed brilliance off it in winning all his aerial duels over the course of the match, at the same time succeeding with both tackles he made.
Yes, Arsenal were pretty hopeless going forward on Sunday and as such Stones wasn’t necessarily stretched as much as many would have expected him to be, but that shouldn’t detract from an outstanding display from the defender, both on the ball and indeed off it, which could go some way to keeping him in the side in the coming weeks.
So while messrs Sterling and Silva produced the goods in the attacking third of the pitch, Sterling in particular looking sharp despite only returning to training earlier in the week, Stones’ efforts at the back in helping provide a platform from which to perform means he was the unsung hero in an excellent Man City performance.
Man City fans… what do you think? Let us know!