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Pep Guardiola looking to keep Benjamin Mendy focused

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has called on Benjamin Mendy to tone down his use of social media and focus on improving the level of his play. The Frenchman has been notorious on Instagram and Twitter for his comments regarding team issues and other tongue-in-cheek comments, which have been popular with journalists and supporters alike.

However, the ire of his manager may have convinced him to limit his posts, although it was not without a few further comments from the defender before he insisted that he would adhere to Guardiola’s instructions. Mendy has returned to action after missing the majority of his first season at the Etihad Stadium with a serious knee injury.

The issue knocked him out of football for nine months, forcing Mendy to sit on the sidelines as City romped their way to the Premier League title along with the EFL Cup. The full-back was named in France’s squad for the World Cup, although was merely a spectator once again as Lucas Hernandez locked down the left-back position. Mendy played only 40 minutes in the competition, which came as a substitute in Les Bleus’ 0-0 draw with Denmark. Though he still enjoyed the festivities of their World Cup triumph, there would have no doubt been disappointment to have not played a more significant role.

Mendy had to endure a lot of time on the sidelines last season and his way of engaging with supporters may have been his own way of trying to connect with them, having been robbed of the opportunity to do so on the pitch. The Frenchman delved into friendly banter with opposing fans, but importantly never overstepped the line, proving that although he’s young, the 24-year-old does have a sensible head on his shoulders. Guardiola’s comments are strange considering that City allowed Amazon Prime to film an entire series about their exploits last season. If he was worried about any information leaking out or saying the wrong thing about an opponent, the Spaniard played a very risky game with the programme.

Guardiola’s comments may also have been out of concern for his player in order to get him back to his best on the pitch to aid City’s quest for the Premier League crown. Before his injury Mendy was outstanding down the flank for City, sending in dangerous crosses for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to convert from close range. The Frenchman’s pace is a huge asset, allowing him to burst past defenders with ease. It also allows him to backtrack and cover space to prevent counterattacks. An ACL injury can rob a player of a yard or two of speed, along with the ability to quickly plant and change direction.

However, the early signs for Mendy are encouraging to suggest that he has avoided this fate. He played a pivotal role in City’s win over Arsenal on the opening day, providing assists for both of his side’s goals in their triumph at the Emirates Stadium. Mendy continued his form against Huddersfield, once again notching an assist in City’s hammering of the Terriers.

The team are already hot favourites for this year’s title, with only Liverpool appearing to provide any other challenge. It’s easy to see why so many are quick to back them, and it’s not just the staggering number of wins they rack up. City have already scored eight goals in two matches in the Premier League this term after notching 106 last season, which equalled an average of 2.8 goals a game. Mendy’s presence adds to the fact.  The full-back makes his side almost impossible to defend as they have threats through the middle and down both flanks, pairing him with Kyle Walker on the opposite flank.

Both players are capable of making driving runs which terrify defenders. Having such a dynamic threat on both flanks of the pitch will increase City’s threat, therefore, their games should land over 2.5 goals more often than not, which will push the club’s tally of 106 strikes in the 2017/18 campaign. It’s a common belief in many circles that professional football is low-scoring but City could put an end to that. Their draw against Wolves was a rarity, seeing as it did not include more than two goals. Expect a reaction from the club as they adjust their style of play that will feature a lot more of Mendy in the light of Kevin De Bruyne’s injury. It will place a higher burden on the Frenchman to provide further assists to boost City’s goal tally.

Guardiola will want to see that on a consistent basis throughout the term and keeping one of his key men focused will be more important than ever following De Bruyne’s injury. De Bruyne provided more assists than any other City player last season but will miss three months due to a knee injury. Boasting a player that can create goals down the wing will be vital to ensure that City are not affected by the loss of the Belgian.

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