The Chalkboard: Gundogan repaid Guardiola’s faith and silenced doubters vs Chelsea

Rightly or wrongly Ilkay Gungodan has often taken on the role of Manchester City’s whipping boy since he arrived at the club, but even his firmest of critics would be forced to accept he has been in fine form of late – including in the 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea on Sunday.

On the chalkboard

Players of Gundogan’s style of play can often fade into the background and evade the credit that they deserve. Fernandinho’s style is clearly defined: put out fires in front of the back-four and offer creativity when opportunities present themselves.

The Brazilian’s brilliance in perfecting the midfield anchor role is close to incomparable, yet fans of City and neutrals alike have often criticised his German teammate for struggling to fill the void in his absence.

But place Gundogan in the same starting XI as Fernandinho and his true quality comes to the fore. Both players have started the last three games and the 28-year-old has built a compelling case for a new deal within those fixtures.

Quality shines through when defensive burden is released

Fernandinho’s presence in the side is one of the most fundamental prerequisites to City’s collective success. On an individual level, however, Gundogan is able to find his best form when the Brazilian is offering defensive protection.

Against Arsenal, his sumptuous first-time pass into the onrushing Raheem Sterling’s path provided City with a moment of genius to unlock a stubborn defensive unit and retake the lead.

It was a priceless moment of quality which vindicated Pep Guardiola’s recent glowing admission on the 28-year-old midfielder, as per Goal.

“When we need a creative player in that position, I don’t think you can find one player in Europe who is more clear in their passing than Gundogan and we have it.”

A complete performance against the Gunners has since been backed up by a pair of fine performances in the Premier League fixtures which have followed.

That Gundogan completed 77 passes against Chelsea – the third highest recorded by any City player after Aymeric Laporte and John Stones – with a pass accuracy of 97.4%, stats via Whoscored, speaks volumes about how vital he is to the club’s playmaking endeavours.

His three most recent performances against Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea have seen Guardiola reap the rewards of the faith he has shown in the former Borussia Dortmund man, and a continuation of this vein of form will surely force his band of critics to change their tune.