Manchester City are on a 14-game unbeaten run in the league dropping just four points in the process, as Guardiola’s men are five points ahead of Manchester United at the top of the table, with a game in hand. City have found their mojo back after a slow start to the season and have gradually edged ahead of the pack in the title race.
One of the key reasons City have established themselves as title contenders is the fact they have shut down their oppositions from scoring. Guardiola’s men have conceded just three goals in their last 14 games, while scoring 32 goals in the process. Although Ruben Dias and John Stones have rightly been credited for City’s improved defence, there has been an equivalent impact from one of the City defender’s who has provided Guardiola with new tactics against their opponents.
Joao Cancelo’s ability to transition from a full-back to midfielder has allowed City to defend better during turnovers and opponent’s transitions. Cancelo’s impact was quite evident in City’s win against reigning champions Liverpool, as the full-back’s transition to a midfielder allowed Gundogan to play in an advanced position causing Liverpool a lot of problems.
Guardiola admitted he had not seen Cancelo play in that position earlier, and added “No, but you see the training sessions and you see the games. How he moves, how he controls it, how he handles the relationship with team-mates inside and outside.”
“Other players in the back cannot play in this position, they can play wide, but he has the skills to play there. Danilo could do it. Fabian Delph was exceptional. Alex Zinchenko too.“
“There is a need sometimes for these qualities and you believe that they can do it. We talk to them, we try to explain to them. Sometimes we realise it is difficult for them but if you are positive about it and believe that they can do it then they have the quality to do it.”
“He is a player who has that mentality offensively to see what happens. He is a big talent.”
“When a player is on the pitch and has the ball, the decision is for them. We help them a bit in terms of telling them where they will find the spaces, but the rest they have to do.”
“Everything started from him. From the desire, from the wish, from the generosity of what you can do for the team. When that happens, the quality does the rest.”