When Manchester City take on Burnley at the Etihad on Saturday, the fixture will see two England central defenders pitted against each other.
Both John Stones and James Tarkowski are in the England reckoning and are key members at their respective clubs making Saturday’s showdown potentially a very interesting one for Gareth Southgate.
The duo are capable defenders who have improved significantly in the past year under the guidance of Pep Guardiola and Sean Dyche giving the Three Lions boss food for thought when selecting his back four of three.
So with that in mind, how do the Manchester City and Burnley defenders compare ahead of their upcoming encounter?
After his initial struggles during the 2016/17 Premier League season following a big-money move from Everton to the Etihad, Stones has since gone on to become a solid defender for Manchester City.
The 24-year-old made some costly mistakes in his debut campaign at the club, but managed to eradicate such errors from his game on the Citizens’ way to the 2017/18 Premier League title.
Stones’ decision making and the odd lapse in concentration has let him down in the past but, having not made one defensive error (by Opta’s definition) in the Premier League last term, it is an area of his game that has clearly been worked on.
Ultimately, Stones is proving to be quite the defender for both Manchester City and England.
On top of his ball-playing capabilities and how less error-prone he has become, Stones is surprisingly a powerful figure in the air and has all the tools needed to become a complete defender.
TT Grade: B+
Tarkowski has had quite the rise having gone from playing in League 1 with Brentford to finishing seventh in the Premier League as a Burnley player while becoming an England international in the process.
During that time, Tarkowski has formed a solid central defensive partnership alongside Ben Mee at the heart of a very sturdy Burnley backline under Dyche.
The 25-year-old has truly flourished following the departure of Michael Keane to Everton and possesses all the attributes a manager wants to see in a centre-half.
With Stones, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Joe Gomez all names Southgate has used in central defence for England, competition for a spot in the Three Lions starting XI is fierce.
But if Tarkowski can maintain the level he has been playing at for over a year, then the Burnley man is definitely in with a shout.
TT Grade: B-
Tarkowski has been performing at a very high standard for some time now and certainly deserves to be in the discussion for England.
However, he is nowhere near as good as Stones when it comes to ability on the ball and it would be interesting to see how he would cope playing away from a deep block against any half decent opposition.
Considering that, Tarkowski falls short in this battle with Stones the clear victor.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!