While John Stones might have been criticised on a few occasions for defensive errors this season, he is certainly one to look out for in the future, especially given his ability on the ball.
A player with the potential to go on and become an important element in England’s defensive jigsaw, Stones has shown glimpses of his talent at Manchester City in the Premier League.
And while he continues to give good performances in the eyes of his manager, Pep Guardiola, this Squawka stat shows that he does love to play the ball out from the back and dribble past opponents.
Stones has completed the same number of league take-ons this season (17) as Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (yes, you read that right!).
Do you think John Stones has shown improvement, playing for Manchester City?
John Stones has completed the same number of league take-ons this season (17) as Cristiano Ronaldo.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 20, 2017
Bringing the ball out from the back. pic.twitter.com/kMQa5UbKE7
The Manchester derby has been rearranged for Thursday, April 27, the Premier League has confirmed.
The clash between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium was postponed in February because of United's involvement in the EFL Cup final.
Consequently, City's league trip to Middlesbrough has been put back a day to Sunday, April 30. City still have another game against West Brom to rearrange due to their progress to the FA Cup semi-finals. A new date for that match will be confirmed next month.
A meeting on a Thursday is obviously not too common for the two clubs and the last time they clashed on that day was way back in 1994.
On the evening of November 10, during the 1994-95 campaign, the Red Devils ran out 5-0 winners at Old Trafford with Eric Cantona, Andrei Kanchelskis (hat-trick) and Mark Hughes all scoring in an emphatic Premier League victory.
1994 - The last time the Manchester derby was played on a Thursday, @ManUtd beat Manchester City 5-0 in November 1994. Rout.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 20, 2017
The Premier League weekend saw Chelsea extend their lead at the top while Manchester United moved into the top five.
Here, we look at five things we learned.
Will he push for a move?
Willian made only his 13th Premier League start of the season against Stoke on Saturday, scoring the opening goal. That represents just 46 per cent of Chelsea’s games which, for a player of his supreme quality, surely has to rankle a bit.
The Brazilian turns 29 in August and may start to feel, with good reason, that his future would be better served away from Stamford Bridge. He’s Champions League-level and will know he won’t be short of offers.
Ndidi was a clever buy
Paying £17m for a 20-year-old who has only played in the Belgian top-flight may have raised a few eyebrows in January but Leicester’s acquisition of Wilfred Ndidi may prove an astute purchase in the short and long term. He’s yet to really have a bad game for the Foxes and was a dominating presence in the midfield against West Ham on Saturday.
The search for N’Golo Kante MkII goes on but the Nigerian is the closest they’ve come to finding his successor. Expect his value to skyrocket over the next year.
Spotlight starts to fall on Bilic
Slaven Bilic’s strange season has escaped criticism as other managers have failed more obviously while West Ham’s relocation to the London Stadium seems to have bought him some time, but the Hammers are in a rut.
Three straight defeats have all-but ruled out any chance of European football next season while, defensively, their 52 goals conceded puts them in the four worst teams in the league. It’s difficult to know what kind of a team they are with no real identity or path to success at present.
Slaven Bilic: "It is very frustrating for us to lose. We didn't start well and what is really disappointing is the way we conceded 3 goals." pic.twitter.com/Gn3qYd87d0— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) March 18, 2017
Allardyce builds around Sakho
Sam Allardyce just knows how to grind it out and after a serious wobble at the start of the year, three consecutive wins has moved the Eagles out of the relegation zone.
Central to that has been the tried-and-trusted method of defensive organisation and January signing Mamadou Sakho has been nothing short of excellent. His inconsistency in possession meant he was never going to last under Jurgen Klopp but with Allardyce he can focus on the basics: heading, tackling, blocking and reading the play.
Crystal Palace in the Premier League with Mamadou Sakho in the side:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 18, 2017
3 clean sheets
Watford in freefall
The Hornets have lost their sting and a pair of wins against Arsenal and Burnley represent six of their nine points in 2017. They are slipping down the standings and with Palace and Leicester improving and Swansea picking up some points, Watford are in danger of being sucked right into the relegation mix.
It’s been seven games now since a clean sheet and that was against Middlesbrough.
Walter Mazzarri has reason to be a worried man.