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Talking Tactics

Cancelo helping Man City change their game

Adrian Clarke 26 Dec 2020
Joao Cancelo

Adrian Clarke says the full-back is becoming as important as Kevin De Bruyne ahead of the trip to Everton

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 16.

The progress that Joao Cancelo has made in his second season at Manchester City has been a welcome bonus for Pep Guardiola.

After a difficult first season following his move from Juventus, Cancelo has established himself as a first-choice pick in defence, capable at both right and left-back.

Indeed, Guardiola singled the Portuguese out for praise following Saturday's 2-0 win over Newcastle United.

“He's a player with incredible quality," he told the club's official website. "His regeneration, physicality is incredible.

"When he arrived, it wasn't easy for all of us - him and me. Now we understand a lot of things. In the final third he has a special quality. He has courage. Sometimes I ask him to play in different positions than what he is comfortable with."

Accurate crosser

City have stuttered going forward this season, scoring 21 goals in their first 14 matches, a total that at least nine teams can better.

With their forward players uncharacteristically inconsistent, the team have relied more on Kevin De Bruyne, who leads the way with seven assists, four more than any team-mate.

But Cancelo has also been a major creative force, showing his ability to deliver from either flank.

Only De Bruyne has created more chances for City this season and Cancelo is even more accurate with his crosses than the Belgian.

Man City's most creative players
Chances created Open-play crosses Cross accuracy %
De Bruyne 42 De Bruyne 36 Mahrez 23.1
Cancelo 23 Cancelo 24 Cancelo 20.8
Mahrez 23 Walker 18 De Bruyne 16.7

Cancelo's spells in LaLiga with Valencia and Serie A with Inter Milan and Juventus have helped to shape the defensive side of his game.

He is adaptable to different game plans, combining forceful defending with quality in possession.

You often see him pressing opponents in central midfield or showing for passes infield, before reverting back into position.

His reading of the game is also excellent. No one in Guardiola's squad has made more interceptions or tackles.

Top defensive stats for Man City
Possession won Tackles Interceptions 
Rodrigo 124 Cancelo 24 Cancelo 20
Walker 67 Rodrigo 21 Rodrigo 15
Cancelo 65 De Bruyne 20 Walker 11

Cancelo's development and his regular appearances in the starting XI have helped Man City face the fewest shots of any Premier League team this season.

They have only conceded five times on the road. So it will not be easy for Everton to break them down at Goodison Park on Monday.

Despite having scored more than once in only one one of seven away matches so far this season, a sacrifice to their attacking flair means they have greater solidity at the back.

It should serve them well when they travel to Merseyside aiming for a win that would send them above their hosts.

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