Last year’s Premier Leaguewinning Manchester City side are best known for their potency on the front foot, as with all sides under the control of Pep Guardiola, but the numbers suggest that a gradual tightening up of the Blue’s defence has been undertaken successfully over his time at the club.
On his arrival in the 2016/17 season, a campaign which promised much but was ultimately fruitless, his developing side conceded an average of 1.03 goals per game in league competition, keeping a total of twelve clean sheets.
In last year’s multiple record-breaking year, after the club’s financial muscle was used to improve Guardiola’s stock in the full-back and goalkeeping departments, there was a marked improvement in defensive terms, with 0.71 goals per league tie going past them with eighteen clean sheets.
Frighteningly for their opposition, the league leaders appear to be in even more a stingy mood this time around.
With ten games gone to this point, they’ve conceded just three times, leaving them on an average of .30 goals conceded, with a startling seven clean sheets racked up already.
Those numbers are exemplary even when taking in other leagues for comparison, with City having conceded the least goals in Europe’s top five leagues and having managed to earn a joint-top finish for clean sheets across those divisions, too.
The credit for that that, of course, needs distributing widely, but one new ever-present in the backline is perhaps due a mention.
The Basque defender Aymeric Laporte, who arrived last year in a £57M, club-record breaking deal from Athletic Bilbao, has played in every league game this season and has looked an assured presence, winning the Man-of-the Match accolade in Monday’s farcical game against Tottenham at Wembley, on a night when not many shined in awkward conditions.
With his left-footedness offering the versatility that his manager prizes, and his side’s copybook remaining almost unprecedentedly lightly blotted, he may well be a feature of this newly-shored up backline for a long time to come.