Men's Team

Lescott: City’s centre-back quartet the strongest in Premier League history

Manchester City’s depth at centre-back is the best in Premier League history, according to former defender Joleon Lescott.

The ex-England international, who won four major honours during his five season at the Club between 2009 and 2014 was special guest as part of Matchday Live’s coverage of our 4-0 win over Leeds.

With Pep Guardiola revealing that both our trip to Elland Road would come too soon for both John Stones and Kyle Walker’s returns to fitness, Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte started at the heart of defence while fellow centre-half Nathan Ake was drafted in at left-back.

Nonetheless, the visitors put on a typically commanding display to record a fifth-successive away clean sheet in the Premier League, our best run in the competition to date.

Indeed, despite rotating our back four ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg away to Real Madrid, Lescott believes Guardiola’s options at centre-half are among the finest he has witnessed.

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“City have the four strongest centre-halves I’ve seen in the history of the Premier League,” he declared.

“It might not the strongest partnership - you could argue for example that Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were the best - but if one of them was out then it wasn’t the same.

“If (Virgil) Van Dijk is out of Liverpool’s side it’s not the same either and I think showed last season, but if any one of our players is out, it doesn’t matter.

“That is credit to the system and recruitment. I don’t think there’s been a better four centre-backs in one squad.”

Lescott was joined in the Matchday Live studio by Paul Dickov, who singled out Ake for particular praise.

The defender has been in fine form and recently told mancity.com that he feels ‘a lot more himself’ this season after an injury-hit debut campaign at the Club.

Ake was instrumental once again in our victory at Elland Road, hooking home our second goal after getting on the end of a Ruben Dias header.

And former City forward Dickov believes the Dutch international’s stellar displays and value to the team often go under the radar.

He said: “Nathan Ake doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done.

“He’s not always playing, but whenever he comes in whether it be centre-half or at left-back when it’s not his natural position.

“It must be difficult to do that, but I think he has been outstanding, it says a lot about him as a professional.”

Lescott agreed with Dickov’s sentiments, saying Ake’s adaptability and work-rate have made him a vital asset to Pep Guardiola’s squad.

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“His versatility helps, which I’m sure was part of the recruitment of him. He covers a lot of bases but whenever he plays, he performs well,” the former City defender reflected.

“He goes under the radar but he’ll be so important to the squad and they will appreciate what he contributes.

“Nathan doesn’t play every week but I’m sure his standards are so high in training and is a leader in the group with regards to making sure the lads are on it every day. Those players are so important to a squad.”

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Victory at Elland Road ensured City moved back to the top of the Premier League table with four matches of the campaign to go.

Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off had seen Guardiola’s men temporarily replaced at the summit, piling the pressure on City to claim a result against a side who were unbeaten in their last five matches.

But City were up to the challenge, with Dickov describing our victory over Jesse Marsch’s men as ‘unbelievable’.

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“The second half performance was outstanding, Leeds gave us a tough game in the first 45,” he said.

“A lot of people before the game with Liverpool winning would’ve thought this would be really tough, can City stand up to it.

“But a 4-0 win, another clean sheet against a Leeds team who have lost in their last five games.

“I think that’s an unbelievable result. A lot of people looked at Leeds’ form at Elland Road how would we handle it, and we just blew them away.”

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