A lot has already been said about Manchester City’s attack this season. The fluidity of their passing, the interchanging of positions and the creation of worthwhile attacking space is at times spectacular. Their latest performance against Chelsea was not only an attacking masterpiece but also an exhibition of #Pep’s defensive philosophy.

As with all #Guardiola teams, the emphasis is on the attack. The sole aim is to defend by pressing the opponent and by keeping possession. By not allowing the opponent to create any chances they nullify the opportunity to concede. Last season this proved not to be the case. In terms of possession, City dominated the league with a staggering average of 59 percent.

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But Pep’s team were placed 17th on the table for goals conceded. Above them were Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester United. Tottenham and Chelsea finished above City in the league while United finished below them. On this occasion attacking possession did not equate to defensive solidity.

This season, Guardiola’s Manchester City have conceded only two goals. The fewest in the 20-team division. And this new defensive reassurance was evident against Chelsea. Only two new players featured from the start that were not in the city team last season, fullback Kyle Walker and goalkeeper #Ederson. And although Kyle Walker has definitely improved the flavour of City’s play, it is Ederson who is the key ingredient in solidifying the Manchester City blend.

The problem with Bravo.

For Guardiola, every player is a versatile tool.

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It is a zeitgeist inherited from Cruyff’s ‘Total Football,’ which saw each player taking on many attacking and defensive duties. For Guardiola, this stretches to how the goalkeeper operates. Not only is the goalkeeper expected to be able to keep the ball out of the net, they are also expected to contribute to attacking play by keeping possession and launching counter-attacks.

Both of his previous teams have possessed keepers excellent in possession. At Barcelona, there was Victor Valdes and at Bayern Munich, he had the incredible Manuel Neuer. Last season this need for a ball playing keeper led to Joe Hart being loaned to Torino and the inclusion of the Chilean, Claudio Bravo.

Whether Bravo was his first choice to recruit is another question for a different time. But the gamble on purchasing the second choice Barcelona keeper proved to be a wrong one, noted the BBC. The stats speak for themselves. During the 2016/2017 season, Bravo only managed to keep 6 clean sheets in 22 games and compared to his understudy Willy Caballero, who managed 6 clean sheets in 17 games, it simply wasn’t good enough.

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Was he performing with his distribution? No. Although Bravo always seemed to be spraying the ball about, City’s 11th man in possession only managed a 78 percent distribution success rate. To put this into context Caballero, not known for his ball retention abilities, managed 79 percent. It doesn’t seem like much but football runs on these small margins.

For City to play Guardiola’s way, a great deal of trust is placed by the defence in the goalkeeper to make the right decision and Bravo couldn’t gain it. Without this trust, a goalkeeper can’t command and organise his defence. On many occasions last season, City’s defensive fragility was down to poor organisation and decision making. A problem a trustworthy, reliable and commanding goalkeeper can easily remedy.

The arrival of Ederson

Ederson Moraes arrived in Manchester with only half a season’s worth of appearances for the Portuguese club Benfica. While some hold the belief that the £37 million price tag to be too steep, those paying close attention to the emerging goalie understand that he is a player with a lot of potential.

He started his career at the Brazilian giants Sao Paolo before moving to Benfica at 16. However, in his first two years in Portugal, Moraes failed to make a significant impression and had to look further down the league to make a statement and earn himself a first-team place.

It was at Rio Ave that Ederson made his previous employers regret the decision to sell him and four years after letting him go, brought him back to Lisbon to compete with their first team keeper Julio Cesar. Initially finding opportunities hard to come by, an injury to Cesar in the second half of the 2016/2017 season allowed Ederson to display his talents in a handful of Champions League games and the remaining league fixtures.

These few fixtures were enough for the City scouts to mark him as a target and the board to bring him to the north west of England. Ederson came to Manchester with a blossoming reputation for his shot stopping and ball retention abilities, while still being far from the finished article.

However, a summer under the improving eye of Pep Guardiola has seen the young Brazilian grow into his role as the first-choice goalkeeper. This was evident in City’s most recent game against Chelsea, where is composure on the ball showed intelligence beyond his 23 years. Twice Ederson controlled the ball with his chest before passing it out calmly to one of his teammates.

Unlike Bravo, Ederson’s distribution success rate is extremely high, coming in at 85%. This is essential for how City play their game, keeping the Citizen's in constant possession. But there are times when City can’t continue to attack and, although they conceded very few chances against Chelsea, he kept excellent awareness to save their two shots on target.

This reflects his season so far. Whereas Bravo proved to be a leaky option, conceding the few opportunities City would allow their opponents, Ederson’s 7 appearances have provided 4 clean sheets. Nearly matching his Chilean counterparts season total.

Ederson averages out at 1.29 saves per game and 4.5 saves per goal. These are incredible stats which Manchester City sorely missed last season. Not only is he linking play together, when he is called into action he is proving his worth. An argument can be made that a year under Pep’s influence has allowed the team to absorb his message and adjust to his tactical approach. By understanding Guardiola’s methods City have become a much more potent threat going forward.

However, the influence Ederson has had over the back line can’t be overlooked. A major critique of Pep’s side last season was how nervous they looked in defence. Now all the players look calmer, more reassured and less vulnerable. This is a testament to faith and trust they have in their new keeper.

Chelsea were to be one of the sternest tests of the season but Manchester City swatted them aside comfortably. With Ederson between the sticks, Pep’s critics have been silenced. The team looks a class above their competitors and have cemented themselves as favourites to be crowned champions.