The John Stones Revival
Manchester City's English defender John Stones celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 17, 2021. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Stones at the double

Sunday's game saw a Man of the Match performance from John Stones in an emphatic 4-0 win over Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace side. 

The Englishman opened the scoring with a bullet header following smart link-up play between Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, before a curling strike from Ilkay Gundogan made it two.

Stones contributed again from yet another set-piece, this time finishing coolly with his left foot after the ball dropped to him on the penalty spot.

Sterling, who seemed to find his normal form again, fired in the fourth spectacularly from a free-kick late on to seal the win.

Faith restored

Despite losing the trust and support of some Manchester City fans, the 26-year-old has repaid Pep Guardiola's faith in him with a seventh clean sheet in nine games. His two goals on Sunday night were obviously a bonus for City and showcased his all-round importance to the squad since the start of the season.

It was last season when the defender seemed to slip under the City radar, with multiple injuries keeping him from playing. Even when back from injury, Spanish youngster Eric Garcia kept the experienced centre-back out of the side meaning Stones recorded his lowest number of appearances in a season since signing for City back in 2016, with only 16 appearances (4 as a substitute).

City's player of the season so far?

It seems for Stones that Dias came into the side at the perfect time, taking the pressure off to impress and play how Citizens are used to seeing him play - and what a pleasure it has been!

With Dias and Ederson on the pitch with Stones, City are yet to concede a goal. The combination of these three gives Stones the license to roam forward and add to the attacking side of City's game. His stats against Crystal Palace show just that:

  • 112/117 completed passes - most out of any player
  • Won possession six times
  • 120 touches - most out of any player
  • Distribution of six accurate long balls

This is a reoccurring theme so far this season with Stones showcasing his skills and confidence week in, week out. 

Stones' future in Manchester

It is clear that City have been lacking a true leader since club legend, Vincent Kompany, left for the start of his managerial career at RSC Anderlecht.

The Belgian centre-back left behind a legacy. "Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?", along with captaining the blue side of Manchester to their first Premier League title, come to mind.

Stones still has many years ahead of him and has embedded himself into the City squad following his fifth season at the club. Could he be the man to fill Kompany's boots? It is a big ask. However, the Citizens have a back four and goalkeeper who are defensively-sound again. Stones is also a born leader and does not hide away from a challenge - what Blues fans have been waiting for. 

Instead of being the new Vincent Kompany, could he be THE John Stones?

 

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