Following Manchester City’s recent victory at Old Trafford, it is evident that ‘The Blues’ are the bookies favourites to snatch the title for the 17/18 season.
Without a doubt, City have an exquisite squad in all areas, but what is the true driving force behind their success?
Their attacking players have been receiving majority of the glory, especially after putting 7 past Stoke earlier this season, however, everyone seems to be ignoring the foundations of where most of their moves are created.
City’s fullbacks are the players kickstarting each attacking movement for them this season, following Pep Guardiola’s strict instructions of ‘playing out from the back’, each move is starting from either the right or left back.
Guardiola and his team invested a lot into the defence this summer, particularly the fullback area. After letting the fan favourite and City legend, Pablo Zabaleta, go to West Ham, Guardiola had to buy wisely in order to win the faith back from the City fans.
One fullback that came into the City squad and has been starting almost every game, an obvious favourite of the manager, is Kyle Walker. The powerhouse fullback arrived in Manchester this summer for £50 million and with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, and to date has looked good value.
Not only has his electric pace been protecting his own goal, but he’s been the foundation to every forward movement down the right-hand side.
In the past Walker has been criticised as failing to deliver the final ball, using his pace to get to the opposition’s box but then running out of ideas. This season he has silenced his critics, even without getting the full credit that he deserves.
As soon as Walker receives the ball he’s either driving forward by carrying the ball himself or supplying the abundance of talent he has in front of him.
Walker’s transformation is underlined by his involvement within Manchester City’s build up play, the Premier League have released the statistic that Walker would complete an average of 44.36 passes per game in the 2016/17 season, compared to his new statistic of 70.47 passes per game so far this season.
You could argue that this statistic has been affected by the different styles of football that his current team and his previous both play. However, throughout the whole season of 2016/17 Walker made 5 assists, respectable for a fullback.
So far this season he has already nearly met his total tally from last season, with currently having 4 assists to his name, before even hitting Christmas, and you would put your house on him surpassing his total from last season.
His involvement within City’s recent form cannot be ignored, Walker came for a big price tag and a great deal of expectation. So far he has delivered and has earnt a huge amount of respect from the Man City fans and his manager by constantly making it into the starting line-up.
If he continues this form for his club, within the next couple of seasons he will have to be considered one of the most effective fullbacks in the world, however there is a long way for the 27-year-old to go.
Written by Thomas Clough
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