Tag Archives: Ruben Dias

Tap Ins & Tap Outs Premier League Player of the Year 2020/21

We’re entering the final weeks of the Premier League season and everything is all but settled already for the first time in a while.

Manchester City are champions for a third time in four seasons, while it’s already confirmed that Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will be playing their football in the Championship next season.

Top four is the only thing left to play for at this point, although Leicester and Chelsea currently have a decent sized cushion above their rivals with only a few games left to play.

That means it’s time for the awards to come out, including the player of the season. The individual who has stood out the most over the course of the 38 game season and had the biggest impact on the success of their team in comparison to the rest of the league.

Only one can be crowned as the winner of this award, but there are three players who have a case more than any other. Here’s my picks for their order and my player of the year.


THIRD:
BRUNO FERNANDES

Only three players this season have managed to hit the mark of 10+ goals and assists in the Premier League this season and the Manchester United star is one of them.

Fernandes has been absolutely exceptional in the league this year and in a normal campaign he’d be the front runner for this award. He has scored 17 goals so far and registered 11 assists in the Premier League, getting a goal or assist in 18 different games from 34 appearances to prove he was a threat throughout and essential to United finishing in second place.

His desire, quality and leadership have helped United to a league-low of five defeats all season and he is the man that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have looked to for inspiration when they need it. While he’s had a couple of dry spells, his constant availability should be praised too and he deserves big plaudits for his first full season in the Premier League.


SECOND:
RUBEN DIAS

Another Portuguese star in the running for the Premier League player of the year is Manchester City’s star centre-back Ruben Dias.

The 23-year-old has been a tremendous addition to the club since signing from Benfica for a club record £65million, filling the void left by Vincent Kompany when he left the club in 2019. He has been a total colossus in the heart of the defence, making 30 appearances and keeping 14 clean sheets and seeing just 18 goals conceded during his time on the pitch.

He has lead from the back with brilliant leadership, great aerial ability, brilliant passing out from the back and officially has made zero errors leading to a goal as City have gone on to become Premier League champions for a third time in four seasons.

A Virgil Van Dijk-like impact, he deserves Van Dijk-like plaudits but unfortunately he should just miss out on this occasion.


FIRST:
HARRY KANE

Spurs are likely to miss out on a top four place this summer and have had a tumultuous season that have seen the club change manager and lose a cup final.

Despite that though, Harry Kane has continued to perform out of his skin and as such should be crowned as the player of the year for the Premier League 2020/21 season. The England captain has led the way in both the goals and assists charts this season for the majority of the way, hitting 20+ league goals for a fifth time in his career and registering 13 assists so far.

His partnership with Heung-Min Son has been brilliant, with a stunning 14 goals created by the duo for each other but it’s more than that for Kane. His leadership has been excellent but also his consistency in performance, constantly digging his team out of a hole when they need it. He deserves better than a mid-table finish and has been by far and away the best and most important player in the division this season, so he deserves the award more than anyone else.

Tap Ins & Tap Outs Premier League Team of the Year 2020/21

We’re entering the final weeks of the Premier League season and everything is all but settled already for the first time in a while.

Manchester City are set to be crowned champions for a third time in four seasons, while it’s already confirmed that Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will be playing their football in the Championship next season.

Top four is the only thing left to play for at this point, although Leicester and Chelsea currently have a decent sized cushion above their rivals with only a few games left to play.

That means it’s time for the awards to come out for the players and managers, including the team of the year. 11 players who have stood out the most in their respective positions to make up the best team to have taken part over the course of the entire season.

There are always a few locks in every team, but there are also always a few positions up for grabs that spark debate. With that said, here is the official Tap Ins & Tap Outs Premier League team of the year for the 2020/21 season.


GOALKEEPER: Edouard Mendy
Honourable mentions: Ederson, Emiliano Martinez

The Chelsea stopper joined the club right at the end of the summer transfer window but has taken to the English game like a duck to water. Using his size well to command his area and claim crosses, Mendy has done well with the ball at his feet and has gone on two long streaks of clean sheets this season including six games immediately after signing.

He has been a huge difference to a Chelsea side that conceded over 50 goals last season, conceding just 23 goals in 29 league games and keeping 16 clean sheets – a tally only bettered by Manchester City’s Ederson.

RIGHT BACK: Joao Cancelo
Honourable mentions: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Vladimir Coufal

Without a doubt the best right back in the country this season, Cancelo has shown why Manchester City were willing to spend around £60m and send Danilo to Juventus in order to sign him.

Flying down the wing all season but also tucking in and taking up a midfield role in possession, the Portuguese international has been a key cog in the reason why the Cityzens are going to be crowned champions this season. His passing, pace, reading of the game and brilliance on the ball has seen him rack up three assists and a goal in the league this season but his overall effect on the team is deserving of the spot more than his numbers.

FBL-ENG-PR-BURNLEY-MAN CITY : News Photo

CENTRE BACKS: Ruben Dias and John Stones
Honourable mentions: Wesley Fofana, Harry Maguire, Lewis Dunk

The defence is very blue up to this point but it’s with good reason because of just how good this duo have been this season. Together they have formed a near perfect partnership, helping City to concede a league-low of just 26 goals this season.

Dias has without doubt been the signing of the season, with his impact likened to that of Virgil Van Dijk, while John Stones has resurrected his career after looking likely to leave last summer.

Brilliant aerially, impenetrable in one-on-one scenarios and tremendous on the ball, these two have been the stand-out defenders in the Premier League this season and deserve all the credit they get after leading their side to another title.

LEFT BACK: Luke Shaw
Honourable mentions: Aaron Cresswell, Kieran Tierney

There was only ever going to be one pick for this position and it had to go to Manchester United’s Luke Shaw.

After a tough spell at Old Trafford since signing back in 2014, Shaw has finally found his groove in the famous red shirt and this season has been absolutely sensational at both ends of the pitch. He’s picked up a career-high six assists this season while also scoring once and has been absolutely vital to the great performances United have managed this season.

He’s stayed fit and worked his way back into the England squad for Euro 2020 too, where he should start based on form.


CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Tomas Soucek and Ilkay Gundogan
Honourable mentions: Youri Tielemans, Declan Rice, Paul Pogba

It’s been an interesting season in midfield, with games coming so thick and fast that small injuries could see you miss five or six games simply due to the schedule. That has made it hard to choose between some players, but I’m comfortable in my choices of West Ham’s Soucek and Man City’s Gundogan.

Soucek has been a revelation since signing from Slavia Prague and has almost acted as David Moyes’ new Marouane Fellaini. With great defensive awareness and positioning, he has been key to helping West Ham challenge for a top four place and also chipped in with a fantastic nine league goals this season.

Alongside him is the top scorer for the champions elect, as Gundogan has had the best season of his career overall. He has stayed fit throughout the season and while his goals have been incredibly important his overall influence to a City team that played without a striker for the most part has been essential to them winning as much as they have done.

Manchester United v Liverpool: The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round : News Photo

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount
Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden

Two attacking midfielders who get into the team despite fiercely different numbers in the goals and assists department for their team, but their influence just as big as each others.

Bruno Fernandes continued his incredible impact from last season and has hit a startling 17 league goals with 11 assists in the league this season as of writing, making him one of only three players to have 10+ in both departments. His creativity, leadership, drive and determination have been key in seeing the Red Devils lose a league-low of just four games this season and as the team’s top scorer and arguably most influential player he deserves his spot.

As for young Mount, he has six goals and five assists this season but has been by far and away the best player in a blue shirt for Chelsea this season. His wonderful technique, great vision, creativity and drive have seen him win the hearts of fans and pundits alike and even potentially a starting spot for England at Euro 2020. What he lacks in the final third this season he has made up for with influence and it shows with Chelsea being much worse off without him for the most part. He is well deserving of his spot in this team.


FORWARDS: Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son
Honourable mentions: Mohammed Salah, Marcus Rashford, Patrick Bamford

One of the locks I mentioned earlier in this article is that man Harry Kane, who has hit 20+ league goals for a fifth time but also this season has led the assist charts since the early weeks of the campaign. The England skipper has become the league’s MVP this season and a move away from Tottenham is now likely as he continues to improve in search of trophies.

With his partnership with club teammate Heung-Min Son producing more goals than any other duo in the league this season whichever way you swing it, it was hard to leave Son out with the South Korean front man being the third player to have double digits for goals and assists.

Pace, ability with both feet, great passing, creativity, ability to beat a defender and the composure to finish both these forwards deserve their place among the team of the year and player of the year candidates.

Manchester City confirm status as Europe’s best with win over Paris Saint-Germain

Manchester City cruised into their first ever Champions League final with a dominant display as they swept PSG aside 2-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate at the Etihad.

PSG started the night fast, but Ederson’s long pass in behind the defence found Oleksandr Zinchenko who cut the ball back for Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian’s shot was deflected int the path of Riyad Mahrez, who slotted through the legs of both Presnel Kimpembe and Keylor Navas to give the hosts the lead.

City were absolutely monstrous in defence throughout the game and with just under half an hour to go, they countered the Ligue 1 champions and Foden squared the ball to Mahrez who smashed into the roof of the empty net and secured their route to Istanbul.

It was an outrageous display of composure, skill, quality and game management from Pep Guardiola’s side as they showed a maturity beyond their experience at this level.

They set up with a more defensive outlook to protect their first leg lead, using no natural striker once again but with a rotating front line to leave PSG nobody to mark.

Ruben Dias was at his absolute best, channeling his inner John Terry with some tremendous blocks with his head and chest and winning all his individual battles whenever he needed too. Alongside him, John Stones was imperious once again while Kyle Walker completely shut down PSG’s counter-attacking threat with his phenomenal pace.

It was a performance that they should be incredibly proud of, but it was a result that cements their status as the best team in Europe this season.

Defensively they were impenetrable for the most part but as usual when they were going forward they looked threatening no matter how they decided to attack.

Out wide they were able to isolate the full backs and win their one on one battles, while in midfield they kept possession but were also aggressive in the tackles and brilliant when pressing. It was a truly complete performance.

They will go into the final as favourites regardless of whether they face off against Chelsea or Real Madrid and deservedly so.

A record breaking eight wins in a row and 11 wins in the competition show that they have been the best team in the tournament throughout, and conceding just four goals in 12 games shows that it’s not just been about blowing teams out of the water going forward too.

Their excellent squad depth has obviously helped immensely with the crazy schedule, but Guardiola’s management has been exceptional and he has got the team playing at arguably their highest level since his arrival at the club.

It will be Guardiola’s first Champions League final since 2011 when his Barcelona side beat Manchester United for the second time in three years, and will be a chance for him to put to bed the myth that he can’t win the tournament without Lionel Messi.

Europe’s best, England’s best and arguably the world’s best, Manchester City are here to stay at the top of the mountain. This could be the start of a sky blue era on the continent.

Manchester City aren’t dark horses, they’re favourites

Another win and another clean sheet on the board for Manchester City as they beat Brighton 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night to move into the top three.

Pep Guardiola’s side made it seven wins on the trot in all competitions thanks to Phil Foden’s first half strike, putting them four points behind league leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

It was another one of their reserved displays, although just the one goal was probably a bit unfair on their performance as they largely dominated.

It was a performance that deserved praise, as Guardiola’s side played without that focal point up front with Sergio Aguero isolating after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19, while Gabriel Jesus continues to try to recover to full fitness after testing positive on Christmas day.

Kevin De Bruyne, Foden and Bernardo Silva floated while Riyad Mahrez stayed quite rigid in his position out on the right wing. The three playmakers floating just filled in gaps wherever they could and the controlled the ball in attacking zones throughout.

On another day, they hit at least four goals. De Bruyne missed a big chance in the first half, Silva hit the crossbar after some great skill inside the penalty area and Raheem Sterling even missed a penalty in stoppage time after coming on as a substitute.

City’s results against the top six have been very inconsistent so far. They beat Arsenal and Chelsea, drew to Liverpool and Manchester United and lost to Tottenham and Leicester. But they look a very different side now compared to those games. The Chelsea game was most recent and they looked like the City of old.

They also went to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi-final and came away with a fairly comfortable win once again.

De Bruyne looks in imperious form, creating at will, while Foden has found goalscoring natural this season with ten goals in 25 appearances for club and country. Sterling hasn’t quite shown up and is only on seven for the season but at some point it will click for him, while Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan have rediscovered their good form in recent weeks too.

What’s more impressive though is their stunning defensive record. They have kept 11 clean sheets in their last 14 games in all competitions, conceding just three times in those games. Ruben Dias and John Stones have formed a partnership that has shone and made City their strongest defensively since Vincent Kompany was in his prime.

Joao Cancelo’s form has also been top drawer, whether it be at right-back or left-back. He has filled in for Kyle Walker perfectly in his natural position but even prior to that when playing on the opposite side, he got forward with intent and created well. He has been a revelation for Guardiola.

The defensive situation has improved to the point that they can now afford to score just once to win games. With the attacking potential we already know they have, it means they have an extra gear to go up if they want or need to.

Manchester City aren’t the dark horses in a two-horse title race involving Manchester United and Liverpool. They’re the favourites in a multi-horse race.

John Stones has seen form resurrected for Manchester City

In the summer of 2020, it seemed almost certain that John Stones was going to be heading out of the exit doors at the Etihad Stadium.

But following a goal and yet another clean sheet in the Carabao Cup semi-final win against Manchester United, the 26-year-old is among the best central defenders in England this season.

A rock solid performance alongside Ruben Dias means City have now kept nine clean sheets in Stones’ last ten appearances, with the only goal conceded coming in the 93rd minute against Chelsea in a 3-1 win.

The resurrection of his form and reputation has potentially saved his City career but also reignited his chances of being in the England squad.

More importantly, he seems to have proven his fitness for once too. Stones has been able to play in ten of Man City’s last 12 fixtures, which have all comes in the space of 42 days. It’s a vast change from the young player who struggled to play a run of fixtures in the past. He’s never played more than 27 league appearances for Manchester City and has already made half as many appearances this season than last.

He’s showed a quick turn of pace to deal with fast attackers, reads the game well with his positioning and just seems to be in the right place at the right time constantly.

His partnership with Dias has also seen him edge Laporte out of the team, with the Frenchman having previously been Pep Guardiola’s go-to man in defence.

Stones’ passing has always been a big factor in his game, with his ability to play through the lines he suit a Guardiola system perfectly as a ball-playing centre-back but he seems to have managed to play himself straight back into the starting lineup.

It was expected he would leave in the summer, with Eric Garcia moving ahead of him in the pecking order at the end of last season and Fernandinho seemingly being used primarily in defence.

But with Garcia opting to refuse to sign a new deal in favour of a summer move to Barcelona and with Nicolas Otamendi moving to Benfica as part of the deal to bring Dias to the club, Stones was given a final chance.

He’s now entered the final 18 months of his contract but it’s fair to say when he plays like this he is a favourite of Guardiola. He’s back and he’s better than ever.

Manchester City’s New Slow Approach is Deliberate and Effective

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote about how Manchester City looked stale and bored of Pep Guardiola’s style and constant meticulous tactics.

Always praised for his attention to detail and the tweaks he makes so often depending on the opposition, this season has seen a much more reserved version of ‘Pep Ball’.

Manchester City this year have been much slower in possession, much less ruthless in front of goal and nowhere near as intense off the ball.

Originally it was thought this was down to the lack of pre-season that the club had and they were just taking a while to get back up to speed. Then it was down to injuries, then as mentioned, staleness and a need for change. Now though, it’s clear it is all deliberate.

Guardiola has set his team up in a more conservative way in order to be able to play his best players more often. City will often start games quickly, looking for an early goal, and then retreat into themselves as the game goes on.

This is seen in the fact that of their 21 goals in the Premier League this season, only six have come in the second half. They’re also the lowest scorers in the top half of the division, level with West Ham United.

Guardiola has gone with a 4-2-3-1 system more often than not so far, using Rodri and one one of Fernandinho or Ilkay Gundogan in the double pivot with Kevin De Bruyne more advanced. That lessens the running of the three midfielders, but also allows the team to keep the ball higher up the field and keep a strong base defensively.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-FULHAM : News Photo

The Blues have got the best defence in the Premier League so far this season, conceding just 12 goals in 14 games which is even more impressive considering they conceded five of those in the game against Leicester.

While it’s not the entertaining, free-flowing football that we’re used to seeing from a Guardiola team it is getting results to an extent. They’ve lost just twice this season in the league but the lack of firepower early on has seen them draw five times.

Currently they sit just outside the top four, but have a game in hand which could potentially allow them to move into those places.

City seem to be undergoing a bit of a rebuild currently and this is Guardiola’s way of stemming the flow and maintaining results while not hanging the team out to dry for the gap in quality.

Expect somewhat of a title challenge this season but not a genuine one as we’ve seen in recent years, followed by a spending spree in the summer.

One thing is for sure, it’s highly unlikely that we will see them return to their high-scoring, free flowing ways of days gone by any time soon.

Is Ruben Dias The Answer To Manchester City Centre Back Issue?

After Vincent Kompany left the club back in the summer of 2019, Manchester City were always short in central defence. Not just in numbers, but in quality.

The Belgian left after a 10 year spell in Manchester, meaning Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Eric Garcia were the only recognised centre-backs at the club. Rather than replace him Pep Guardiola opted to use Fernandinho in defence which was fine when Laporte played, but when he didn’t (which was often) they looked shaky.

This summer City have prioritised a central defender with real quality, with Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli the number one target for the club. Nathan Ake was brought in to shore up numbers too, but Koulibaly remained the man that was most often linked to bolstering the back line.

After months of negotiations, the deal has failed to move forward and City have reportedly move on to other targets with just 9 days left of the transfer window. Jules Kounde of Sevilla was subject to a €55million bid last week, but Sevilla rejected the offer and pointed towards his €80million release clause. Koulibaly’s price has been reported to be around €70million with add-ons included, so it’s highly unlikely City go that high for the young Frenchman when their number one choice is cheaper.

This has seemingly brought them to Portugal’s big defensive hope of the new generation in Ruben Dias.

According to Fabrizio Romano Manchester City have entered talks with Benfica over a potential move for Dias, with Nicolas Otamendi likely to go in the opposite direction to help lower the fee. But is Dias the answer?

For me, not just yet. Dias is a very good defender and has shown that he is better than the Portuguese league with his performances for the national team. He is comfortable on the ball, relatively quick, strong in a one-on-one situation and competitive in the air. But he doesn’t stand out in any of those fields as exceptional to me.

As an option alongside Laporte, Dias would fit in seamlessly and he’s definitely an upgrade on Stones, Ake and Otamendi but City’s issue is when Laporte isn’t there. Koulibaly is used to being that cornerstone of a defence so he’d have no issue taking on the mantle if he was signed, while Kounde did well as the leader of the Sevilla defence despite being only 21 years old. Dias is the leader of the Benfica defence right now but it says something that Porto pipped them to the title last season and his best performances have undoubtedly come for the national team alongside Pepe.

The reported fee of €55-60million plus Otamendi seems quite extortionate in the current market but Guardiola must be keen to either bolster the defence no matter what, or this is a ploy to put pressure on Napoli.

I don’t think it’s the latter and Dias’ reputation is high. He has talent and at only 23 years old he will only improve. Personally, I think he needs a step between where he is now and Man City, so he can bed himself into the league and improve more before the big price tag adds the extra pressure on him. A club like Leicester would be ideal for him, where they will compete against everyone in the division and play with the same principles as the best teams in the league.

Overall, that step looks unlikely to come now with a deal reportedly close and I’m excited to see Ruben Dias in the Premier League.