Right now it seems like nothing can stop this City team. Last night saw the visit of one of the most impressive sides on the continent in the form of Napoli and City handled them with aplomb. From the scintillating opening thirty to minutes, to the grit and determination required in the second half to stave off the Italian sides resurgence. One man who exemplified both sides of City’s performance was Ederson. His penalty save was essential in making sure that the side still had a two goal lead to work with in the second half and had he not thwarted Mertens the game could have been so much different.
Composed, Confident & Progressive
One of the impressive aspects of Ederson’s performance (as well as overall this season) is his ability to help the team when building attacks from the back. It cannot be emphasised enough just how helpful having a goalkeeper who can play with the ball at his feet is to a Pep side. Having a player with this ability essentially means that City will always be able to have an extra player available to beat the opposition press. Using last night as an example, when Napoli used man to man coverage to block all available passing options, City simply returned the ball to Ederson who became is the “free man”. This then provides Napoli with a problem, do they allow him to use his superior passing range and accuracy to find a free player (such as Sané or Sterling) higher up the pitch or do they instead attempt to close him down. Napoli most often decided to close him down, meaning a more technically skilled player was then available to receive without pressure. Even when he was pressed the accuracy of his passing never faltered, providing a stable base for City to build their attacks from.
Not only was his passing accurate, but it was also progressive. Not content with simply moving the ball on to the nearest available player, Ederson looked to play the pass that was most advantageous for the team. In particular, he often bypassed the first line of the Napoli press by playing sharp passes in to the feet of Fernandinho in midfield.
By making a vertical pass such as this it meant that Napoli players would collapse on the location of the ball, thereby freeing up other City players to receive without pressure. This was incredibly effective at creating space within Napoli’s press and allowing City time and space to organise their attacking structure effectively.
Ederson distribution and saves against Napoli pic.twitter.com/aFrCXTeg1z
— CityLens (@MCFCLens) October 17, 2017
The Sweeper Keeper
Another game, another moment where Ederson runs out of his box to stop a dangerous attack. Get used to seeing this, because it will happen a lot and he will only improve in this regard. Much like the Brazilian is an extra man when City have the ball, he can sometimes act as an extra defender when they don’t have the ball. It is no secret that City look a lot more secure defensively this season and Ederson is definitely a big reason why. When he leaves his area to attack the ball he does it with speed, power and authority. Last night was no different as he came hurtling out to head clear when Mertens had managed to race behind John Stones to chase down a tempting lofted pass.
Add to all this the fact that he is one of the promising shot stoppers in world football and you have the recipe for a player who could go on to rival Manuel Neuer for the best sweeper keeper around. Ederson wasn’t incredibly busy last night but when called upon, he was excellent showcasing the safe pair hands that City have sorely missed over the last twelve months. Then of course there was the penalty save. Some people might tell you it was a poor penalty but I’d rather tell you it was a fantastic save. The fact he committed to diving across the goal, managed to save the ball with his feet and guide it into an area where Fernandinho could clear? Out of this world.