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Everton v Man City | A closer...
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Everton v Man City | A closer look at Fernandinho at centre-back

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

14:42 30 Sep 2019

Once news emerged that Manchester City would be without key centre-backs, Fernandinho would receive added focus.

Most expected the Brazilian defensive midfielder to drop back in and play in the back-four. And so it's proved.

With Aymeric Laporte out until next Spring and John Stones absent for a few more weeks, late September and October was always going to be a test for City's suddenly weakened back-line.

Speaking a couple of weeks, John Giles was optimistic that Fernandinho would not only prove competent but he would perhaps demonstrate that he may be the best defender at the club, with the probable exception of Laporte.

"I think it's his best position. It could be a blessing in disguise," he told Off The BallĀ on September 19th.

Given how he excels in his regular brief in front of the defence, that remains to be seen. Either way, on paper he wasn't exactly facing an overly onerous challenge at the weekend against Everton.

Man City were playing a team that could barely score this season. Before welcoming City to Goodison Park, Marco Silva's side had only netted five times in six games.

Shot Concessions

However, they have been more productive at home and it was evident against City. The Toffees attempted 12 shots, with eight on target which is more than City usually have to deal with. Indeed, when they lost 3-2 at Norwich, they only conceded eight shots, with just three on target.

This time though, Pep Guardiola's side won 3-1 at Everton with their own firepower seeing them through.

So where was Fernandinho in the middle of all this?

He partnered right-sided centre-back Nicolas Otamendi. He took up a particular role when City were in possession. Otamendi can play like a headless chicken at times, diving into challenges when it would be better to take a chill pill and use more patient judgement.

Against Everton, the Argentine sat further forward when City's midfield were on the ball. Fernandinho, meanwhile, hung back ever so slightly in that high press as the outlet to recycle the ball.

Indeed, he had more touches of the ball than any other player on Saturday evening. All in all, he had just over 100 touches, although Otamendi made one more pass than he did.

All of that isn't really a surprise for a club that dominates possession. However, while he was competent defensively - including a good block from a Gylfi Sigurdsson goal-bound effort - there were a couple of moments when Everton tested him.

Testing Moments

One moment early on saw him dive out of his defensive line in an attempt to stop compatriot Richarlison, only to give away a foul in a dangerous position about 5-10 yards away from the left edge of the City box. Fortunately for him, Lucas Digne's free-kick was off-target.

He was more culpable for Everton's equaliser however. The 34-year-old made a hash of a clearance after Sigurdsson sent in a hopeful cross from deep. The ball fell to Alex Iwobi on the edge of the box. A weak challenge from Fernandinho meant the ball squeezed out to Ireland captain Seamus Coleman whose deft touch over Ederson set up the goal.

Later on, his lax marking allowed Dominic Calvert-Lewin - who converted Everton's aforementioned goal on the goal-line - to run in behind him and latch onto a through ball. Luckily for Fernandinho once again, Everton failed to score, this time thanks to a touch from Ederson to divert the ball wide.

Given City's firepower and ball retention, they will get away with it more often than not. But there will be slight concern at some of the errors.

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Aaron Connolly Brighton Fernandinho Football Leicester City Manchester City Newcastle Off The Ball Raf Diallo Soccer

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