For the first time in the Guardiola era, Manchester City have been handed their third loss in the span of four matches. The Citizens have looked lackluster since falling 2-0 to Chelsea at the beginning of December and their troubles have only gotten worse with two defeats to mid-table teams in Crystal Palace and Leicester City. in their last two matches. In this time, Tottenham and Liverpool, City’s closest title challengers, have flown high. In the last four matches, Liverpool have secured four wins, scoring 13 goals. Tottenham meanwhile have done one better, scoring 14 goals from four wins in their previous four encounters.
So what has gone wrong for Manchester City in the past few matches? Some might point to the lack of form from players like Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez; or the absence of Vincent Kompany or Benjamin Mendy. However, undoubtedly, the biggest miss of all for the Sky Blues in recent matches has been the loss of their Brazilian midfielder: Fernandinho.
Fernandinho is essential to the way Manchester City play. He does all the dirty work, allowing star players like David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne to do everything they are good at and still operate centrally without having to do any bit of serious defending. The 33-year old Brazilian plays the role of two defensive midfielders in one, allowing City to always be on the front-foot and never have to rely solely on their centre-backs, who without Vincent Kompany in the mix, are still very much learning their trade. With 75 passes per game, he’s the starting point of all of Manchester City’s attacks. When he’s called on in defense, he hardly ever puts a foot wrong. The Brazilian midfielder has won 42 duels in the air, made 36 tackles and 26 interceptions in 17 matches this season while also getting forward to provide a goal and three assists. This highlights how crucial he can be in both attack and defense. There was a time when the Brazilian played on the edge and earned himself red-cards on an unflattering basis. This season, the 33-year old has looked like the coolest head in City’s entire lineup. He’s gone about his business without any of the plaudits he deserves, but making Man City tick game in and game out.
At 33-years old one might not think Fernandinho could be anywhere near Manchester City’s most important player. But without him they have struggled to get organized in defense and have conceded several goals through the middle of the pitch. Without David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Manchester City seem to get by just fine. But without Fernandinho, the Sky Blues look lackluster in both attack and defense. Fernandinho’s absence from Guardiola’s side has now culminated in City losing both of their last two Premier League matches – both to much weaker opponents. Without Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva look nowhere near as effective. Without Fernandinho, Manchester City are not the same side. This is why Fernandinho is Manchester City’s most important player.
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