Manchester City : The key to their Extraordinary 21 Game Winning Streak

Manchester City are looking unstoppable right now after their 4-1 victory over Wolves earned them 21 straight victories across all competitions, 15 of them coming in the Premier League.

It wasn’t so plain sailing for the club for the first half of the season, where at 5-2 drubbing at home to Leicester and plethora of games where chances went begging caused them to drop points and float around the middle of the table.

However, after a disappointing draw at home to West Brom back in December, Pep Guardiola has clicked his side into gear and are now well on their way to a fifth Premier League title and a possible historical quadruple.

The likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling have always been vital for the recent success of City, but numerous players in the squad have stepped up to the plate since the turn of the year to reaffirm the club as one of the most dangerous sides in the world. 

John Stones and Ruben Dias 

John Stones and Ruben Dias are 'outstanding' and like Nemanja Vidic and Rio  Ferdinand at Manchester United, says ex-Man City man Trevor Sinclair

One of the most impressive changes that have been made to the City side has been defensively, and huge credit for this has to go to the outstanding centre back partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias.

The club have only conceded seven goals in the 20 game stretch with the pair being the focal point of the defensive unit. 

Stones’ career has been revitalised in recent months with his City career looking all but over last season and frozen out of the squad.

Injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake towards the start of this season gave the former England international a second chance that he has grasped with both hands.

We know that he is comfortable with the ball and likes to spread the play to get his team on the front foot, but his defensive IQ has improved tremendously and has cut out the silly mistakes he was known for in his game.

Perhaps more experience in the game has helped him in his role compared to when he was signed by City for £50 million at just the age of 22 in 2016.

Guardiola has to be given credit too for improving Stones and helping him live up to his price tag, something the City boss has been criticised for not doing in the past.

The rate Stones is going there is no chance Gareth Southgate won’t select him for the European Championships this summer. 

As for Ruben Dias, the big money signing from Benfica in September raised a few eyebrows with the quality of Dayot Upamecano and Kalidou Koulibaly being linked to the club beforehand.

However, since his debut away at Leeds, he has fit in perfectly into the defence with the confidence of a player who looks like he has played in the league for years.

At just 23 years of age, he reads the game exceptionally well and has been worth every penny of his transfer fee. He looks like the leader City have missed since the departure of cult hero Vincent Kompany.

It is hard to argue that there has been a better centre back in the Premier league this year, and it’s no coincidence that Manchester City have stopped leaking goals since his arrival.

The chemistry of Stones and Dias has been formidable and their communication to track runners and stay tight in their defensive line has been outstanding, helping to balance the team with what is already a world class attacking side. 

Phil Foden 

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This has been the season that Phil Foden has really emerged as a top Premier League talent, scoring 11 goals and gaining six assists in all competitions, taking his game to the next level.

The 20 year old has received more playing time since David Silva left the club last year, and has thrived with the extra minutes he’s been given. He is light on his feet, tricky with the ball and intelligent with his movement making him a scary prospect in the years to come.

Guardiola has raved about the youngster for years saying he will never sell him, and resisted letting him go out on loan so he could slowly build up his playing time and it has worked a treat.

His versatility is so key to why he can adapt and contribute to the side, whether that is wide left, wide right or more central behind the striker. Wherever the position, he is always a threat and it’s frightening to think what he could become once he develops further into his career.

A man of the match performance against Liverpool away, in which the team won 4-1, sums up how far the youngster has come already and that he is capable to shine against some of the world’s greatest active players. 

Ilkay Gundogan 

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Perhaps one of the most surprising assets to Manchester City’s dominance this season, Ilkay Gundogan looks like a different player this campaign and has been vital to their sensational form.

The German has scored 13 goals in 2020/21, after scoring just 11 in the last two seasons combined. He appears to have much more license to dart forward and make runs into the box where Gundogan has proved he has a clinical touch.

His one touch passing to keep the team ticking and oozing confidence that spreads through the team on the pitch has made him a perennial starter in comparison to the sporadic appearances he would make in the past few seasons, giving him more opportunities to make an impact.

Their 2-0 home win against Spurs, in which Gundogan scored twice, is a prime example of how he was able to dictate the game and score from both clever close range strikes from inside the box or in one versus one situations.

He seems to have recaptured his most memorable form from when he was playing for Borussia Dortmund, being much more efficient with his attacking play.

Perhaps this is due to his understanding of English football, and being completely settled with the Premier League now after finding his way since signing five years ago. 

Joao Cancelo

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Operating from primarily the right back position, Joao Cancelo has turned into one of the best full backs in the world this season and has been a huge contributor to this Manchester City side.

Guardiola always insists on his full backs to have high energy and tuck inside to link up with the attack, and this has resulted in him finding pockets of space that create plenty of opportunities for him to be a threat on goal.

He probably should have scored more than the two goals he has scored this season, as he gets himself into great positions and has the ability to usually pick out a pass or shoot on sight.

Kyle Walker has consistently been the Manchester City right back for the past few years, but Cancelo has been shining above him this season and cemented his place in the side.

He also performs just as well at left back, with injury prone Benjamin Mendy usually on the sidelines leading to the left back slot up for grabs.

Coming to the club as part of a swap deal with Danilo from Juventus in 2019, it is now looking like fantastic business for Manchester City. At just 26 years old, he is only going to get better and adapt to English football even further. 

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