At halftime on Sunday at Anfield, as Liverpool and Manchester City players entered the tunnel to head to the locker room, Ilkay Gündogan smilingly grabbed Phil Foden by his shoulder. You wouldn’t think that a few minutes earlier he would have given a penalty on a 0-0 score in City’s most important game of the season. It seems that this miss – the third of six penalties this season in the league – had no effect on the German international’s mood.
It was as if he knew he would get another chance to rehabilitate himself, and he scored twice after the break as City beat the reigning Premier League champions 4-1 to bring Pep Guardiola closer to the title.
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This whole scene shows how confident and sure Gündogan is of his talent right now. He is probably the strongest player in the Premier League right now, ahead of Man United’s Bruno Fernandes.
“He is so confident. Nothing bothers him, he has no doubts,” a source told ESPN. “And he plays at such a level that he knows he can influence the game and be decisive.”
He has scored nine goals and one assist in his last 11 Premier League games, dating back to mid-December. That’s more goals than in the last two seasons combined. After City’s stunning victory at Anfield, Gündogan was asked if he was in top form. His answer was generally honest and modest.
“In numbers, yes,” he told RMC Sport. “It’s always nice to score a goal or get an assist. “If you follow my career, you see that in other seasons, in the last few seasons, I played at the same level, maybe even better, but I didn’t score many goals or assists. For me, after 90 minutes I always leave the field feeling good. It doesn’t matter if I scored a goal or not. There are different areas of the game where you can make an impact. So it’s all about how I feel. That’s how I judge myself, and right now I feel good.
Gündogan’s evolution – perhaps more of a transformation – is largely due to a change of role rather than position. He is still eighth and still to the left of Rodri in City’s midfield, but he now has a different purpose.
Error. Don’t film specified.Ilkay Gündogan The Manchester City midfielder’s development has revealed an attacking element not yet seen in the German international. Matt McNulty – Manchester City Football Club/Manchester City Football Club via Getty Images
Juanma Lillo, Pep Guardiola’s assistant, took great pains to define Gündogan’s new role. After spending hours in the cinema and on the training pitch, Lillo saw Gündogan’s potential higher up the pitch every time City had him: the German’s intelligence and skill often put him in a good position to score goals. If Joao Cancelo penetrates the midfield from the right wing when City are in possession of the ball, Gündogan is free to run into the penalty area and stay on the left side of the pitch, where he can be more effective and contribute more to the construction of attacking play.
It didn’t take long for this “new” Gündogan to get going, especially when Man City aren’t playing with an established striker, which gives them even more freedom. Of the four league games played since December 15, in which Gündogan has not scored, three have been center strikers.
“The more freedom he has, the more effective he will be,” the source added. “He’s so clever in the way he moves and runs that it’s almost impossible to catch an opponent. Liverpool had no idea how to mark him or how to control his movements. And the two goals he scored [at Liverpool] were pure No9 goals.
A quick look at the statistics shows how much Gündogan’s performance in the attacking third has improved. He may not cover as much ground as he used to, but with the ball it’s different. Compared to 2019-20, he takes more shots per 90 minutes (2.2 versus 1.9) and has a better shot conversion rate (28% versus 6%). He shoots more shots in the penalty area (72% versus 39%), has more hits in the opponent’s penalty area per 90 minutes (3.0 versus 1.9) and has a higher expected goal-per-shot percentage (0.19 versus 0.12).
Manchester City have won 14 in a row in all competitions, thanks in large part to Gündogan’s form. He doesn’t want to claim all the credit – he’s too modest for that – but he also stressed that he doesn’t want to stand still.
“We have to stay humble now and approach each match as we have in the past weeks and months. We know we are in a very good time, but we should not take it for granted. But if we keep doing as well as we have been doing lately, it could be a great and successful season for us.
Frequently asked questions
Will Manchester City be banned from the Premier League?
Champions League ban on Manchester City is overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The two-year ban imposed on Manchester City for the Champions League due to a serious breach of UEFA rules on financial fair play has been lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. At the same time, the fine for the club was reduced from €30 million to €10 million (9 million euros).
How many times has Man City won the Premier League?
The club won the League Championship / Premier League six times, the FA Cup six times, the EFL Cup seven times, the Community Shield / Charity Shield six times and the European Cup Winners’ Cup once.
How many times has Man City won the Premier League in the last ten years?
They were also the first team in the Premier League to score 100 points in a single season. City has also won the League Cup four times (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019) and the FA Cup twice (2011 and 2019) in the past decade.
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