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Fernandinho the glue binding surging Man City together

AFP  |  Manchester 

Among a dazzling array of midfield options, it is the often unheralded who Manchester City has relied on most in another stunning start to the season for the League champions.

The Brazilian will face old on Wednesday as City seek to make amends from the only blip of their campaign so far, a shock 2-1 defeat to in their last home game.

If any reminder was needed over Guardiola's influence, he was banned from the touchline that night.

Since his return, City have won nine and drawn one, a 0-0 stalemate away to Liverpool, of their last 10 games, scoring 29 goals and conceding just two in the process.

Although fulsome in his praise of the maturing centre-back pairing and John Stones, Guardiola's defensive philosophy is dependent on a team effort to keep the ball as far away from City's goal as possible.

"Always we try to convince our players as far away the ball is from our goal, we are safe. It's much, much better. The moment the ball is around our box, anything can happen," said Guardiola this week.

"In 10 years I was always concerned, always focused, maybe more than any other thing, in defending well.

"The only difference is we do it far away from our goal." Central to that philosophy is Fernandinho's ability to not just read the game and quickly regain possession, but also use the ball soundly as a springboard to City's attack.

"There is always a relation. When you attack good, you defend well. When you defend well and are solid, you attack better," added Guardiola.

'Luckiest in the world'


Despite turning 33 earlier this year, has started all of City's 14 and matches this season, while the more creative talents of David Silva, Leroy Sane, and have had to live with Guardiola's rotation policy.

"Ferna would make any the happiest or luckiest in the world," said Guardiola ahead of City's 3-0 win in the against Shakhtar two weeks ago.

"He is a joy to have as a - he is very special. He will always be a for me to work alongside."

Guardiola knows very well the dual demands of Fernandinho's role having won in his days as a in the same position for

received arguably the highest praise from his manager when he claimed even Guardiola the player couldn't force his way into the current City juggernaut given his form.

So far City's failure to land Jorginho, who instead choose to follow in the move from Napoli to Chelsea in July, to share the burden as the midfield anchor hasn't proved costly.

Instead, Guardiola's men show no sign of a slip in standards from their record 100-point League campaign last season, as evidenced by a 6-1 annihilation of on Sunday.

It is the that remains the holy grail for City's owners, though, and despite the stumble, another victory against Shakhtar will put the English champions well on course to make the last 16 for a sixth straight season.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 06 2018. 09:55 IST