Manchester City: Picking the Citizens' Strongest XI

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIDecember 14, 2011

Mario Balotelli: Works Best For Manchester City As the Main Man Up-Front
Mario Balotelli: Works Best For Manchester City As the Main Man Up-FrontMichael Regan/Getty Images

Despite their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, Manchester City remain the team to beat in the Premier League, with the leaders still two points clear of second-placed Manchester United.

For all the money they've spent—£426.35 million of the £500 million set aside for transfers since Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi United Group took over—City have undoubtedly the strongest squad in the league.

It's emphasised by the fact they've scored more goals than any other Premier League team with a staggering tally of 49 this season—14 goals more than their nearest competitor, Man United.

They've also conceded the third least amount of goals in the league with 15, one more than United and two more than Liverpool.

On top of that, they also retain the third highest amount of possession per game in the league, seeing 56 percent of the ball on average each match; only Arsenal and Chelsea have better possession records.

They win the fourth most amount of aerial duels (Chelsea, Liverpool and Stoke City better them), and average the second most amount of shots and shots on target per match, with only Tottenham Hotspur doing better.

The Citizens also concede the second lowest amount of fouls each game (just 0.2 a game more than Norwich City), while they have the best passing accuracy of any team in England's top flight.

So given all those indicators of City's strength, what's their strongest lineup and formation which achieves such results? 

GK, Joe Hart: No arguments there. Joe Hart is England's best goalkeeper at the moment, and has one of the best shots to saves ratios in the Premier League.

RB, Micah Richards: Again, an undisputed starter at right-back for Manchester City, Micah Richards seems to have taken his game to the next level this season; silly decision from Fabio Capello to overlook him for the England team in their recent games against Spain and Sweden.

CB, Vincent Kompany: The Belgium international and City captain was actually a pre-Mansour signing, the last purchase made in the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. Possibly the best centre-back in the Premier League right now, his £6 million fee seems an absolute bargain.

CB, Kolo Toure: A more controversial decision. Chosen over Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure brings a wealth of experience which is clear to see on the pitch. In minutes played compared to goals conceded, with Toure over Lescott in central defence City have let in considerably less goals.

LB, Gael Clichy: Despite his dire performance against Chelsea, Gael Clichy remains City's best left-back, but doesn't get the credit he deserves defensively, having won 20 tackles from 11 games this season, following from the 90 he made last season for Arsenal—more than any other Premier League defender.

RM, David Silva: A very versatile player across the midfield, Silva's best tactical position is cutting inside from the right, a position where he may have only scored one goal and made three assists in eight games, but has also made the most amount of key passes than other player in the league.

CM, Yaya Toure: Undoubtedly the best box-to-box player in the world at the moment, Yaya Toure is possibly the most important player in the Manchester City team. Without him, City don't have the same thrust in attack, nor the same protection in defence.

CM, Gareth Barry: The fourth best holding midfielder in the league behind Scott Parker, Alex Song and Lucas Leiva, Barry actually starts most games as part of a midfield two with Toure, before dropping back as the game progress and the formation becomes more fluid.

LM, James Milner: One of the most complete wingers in the Premier League at the moment, Milner adds as much to the defence as he does to the attack, each game making at least one tackle, one interception, one key pass, one accurate cross and two accurate long balls. He's also got two goals and five assists to his name this season.

SS, Sergio Aguero: The £38 million signing from Atletico Madrid has played predominantly as a support striker this season. It's where he's made the biggest impact, scoring nine of his 11 league goals this season, as well as making two of his four assists there.

CF, Mario Balotelli: Edin Dzeko would stake a claim to a starting berth had he not spectacularly fallen out of scoring form recently. Balotelli thrives in the most forward position, having scored seven league goals in the six matches he's started up front, and has been a very consistent goalscorer this season, netting in six of his last 10 matches for club and country.

That's the team that theoretically works best for City manager Roberto Mancini, with the three best performing substitutes to come on being Samir Nasri, Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko.


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