Manchester City took a giant step towards ending their Anfield hoodoo on Sunday afternoon as they kept a clean sheet away at Liverpool for the first time since 1986, although a priceless victory continues to elude them.
Despite Riyad Mahrez’s decision to blast the ball into the stratosphere from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining on Merseyside, City came away from their gargantuan clash with plenty of positives to focus on.
Fernandinho was back to his immense best in-front of the back-four and Bernardo Silva continued on his brilliant upward trajectory with a diligent yet classy performance alongside him, but it was the collective performance of City’s central defenders which really caught the eye.
John Stones was Maldini-esque alongside an unrecognisable Aymeric Laporte from the one who seemed intent on handing Hoffenheim clear cut chances on a silver platter at regular intervals in Germany last week.
The post-match narrative has been dominated by the brilliance of a centre-back pairing who complemented one another and hinted at the birth of a formidable partnership for the future.
Meanwhile, at Tottenham Hotspur, doubts continue to linger over Toby Alderweireld’s future with his contract due to expire next summer.
Rumours which tipped him to join Manchester United in the summer fell on deaf ears, but there is no doubt that his departure remains a strong possibility and Mauricio Pochettino will certainly be working in conjunction with Daniel Levy to identify a quality replacement.
And according to the Daily Star, Spurs have identified Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake as a candidate, although Manchester United are also in the hunt for his signature.
Ake’s form with the Cherries has hinted at his potential to re-join a top-four club in the future after Chelsea allowed him to leave in 2017, and Eddie’s Howe’s assessment of his attitude certainly suggests that he possesses the professional mentality which is needed at the top level.
“Nathan has been a model of consistency, not just on match-day but every day in training.
“That is the mark of a model pro and someone who will improve.”
Taking Howe’s comments into consideration, the fact Ake is just 23-years-old and the extent of his development since arriving at Bournemouth, it’s easy to see why Tottenham are expressing an interest.
Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have represented the backbone of Tottenham’s success in recent seasons, but with the former looking likely to depart and the latter set to turn 32 in April 2019, the end of an era is on the horizon in north London.
But with Davinson Sanchez’s signature already secured Pochettino has one half of his future defensive unit in place – all he needs now is a worthy partner for the Colombia international.
On the basis of Ake’s development and the potential which Sanchez has demonstrated at Spurs, Pochettino could have a partnership to rival Pep Guardiola’s if he is able to prise Bournemouth’s crown jewel away from the Vitality Stadium.
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