Man City look to defensive dependancy in upside-down season as attackers struggle for potency

Kyle Walker celebrates scoring against Sheffield United

Perhaps United were not a barometer of improvement or the ultimate assessment of the £230m rearguard. “They had one clear chance in 90 minutes so that is so good for us,” said Guardiola, and if John Lundstram was wasteful with that opportunity, they had a solitary shot on target, and just three in total. But a team with a lone league goal in open play do not present the stiffest of tests; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane should on Sunday.  

Liverpool have been the undoing of City defenders before; think of Otamendi, branded ‘Superman’ but scared senseless of Salah. Yet in a division deprived of Virgil van Dijk, there is a vacancy for the unofficial title of the best available centre-back partnership. Laporte and Dias may fill it. Guardiola, the manager who set new standards in attacking football, may have to settle for the security defensive reliability provides.

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