Ruben Dias has made a huge difference at both ends of the pitch since arriving at Man City from Benfica in the summer – much in the same way as Virgil van Dijk

When Manchester City are in full flight their attacking play can be a joy to behold, with goals flying in from all angles.
There have been six instances of a Premier League side scoring at least 90 league goals in the last decade, and the Citizens are responsible for five of them (with Brendan Rodgers Liverpool side of 2013/14 making up the sextet).
Yet their success so far in 2020/21 has been far more reliant upon their impressive defensive record. At little past the half way point of the campaign, City are only four short of their clean sheet total from last season, and have won just one fewer match by a single goal.
A big part of their improvement at the back has been the acquisition of Ruben Dias from Benfica for £62m, which made him the second most expensive Premier League transfer in the summer of 2020.
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The 23-year-old Portuguese international has a phenomenal record in the early days of his City career. He has started all 19 league games since joining the club, conceding just seven goals in the process. This has helped him to possess the best personal goal difference per 90 minutes among players in the Premier League whove played at least as many minutes as he has (per FBRef).
Not that Liverpool need to be told about the impact that a big money central defensive signing can make, with Virgil van Dijk having been integral to the Reds success in recent years. Indeed, Jurgen Klopp was even asked about the parallels between the Dutchman and Dias in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Hes had an impact, good player, Klopp said in reference to the City man. Good business, compared with Virgil? You can compare.
Supporters from both sides of the rivalry no doubt will match up the two defenders, as my player is better than your player banter is the currency of much of the football debate on social media.
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But its what happens on the pitch which counts far more, and City will have at least one advantage on Sunday in that they can call upon their defensive colossus at a time when Liverpool are deprived of theirs.
And while his defensive prowess will pose a serious problem for a Liverpool side struggling for goals on their own patch, that goes without saying. Its what Dias can bring going forward which the Reds will also need to keep a close eye on.
Citys number three is excellent on the ball and can spray it around really well from deep positions. He goes into the weekend having completed 263 long passes (per FBRef), which is the most in the Premier League, and while hes attempted more than most players, his success rate of 85.9 per cent is the sixth best in the division too.
This was apparent in the reverse of Sundays fixture, as he completed more long passes than any player on either side during the 1-1 draw. It also helps to explain why hes comfortable switching the play across the pitch, with very few centre-backs in Englands top division none of whom play for Liverpool or City having done so on more occasions in 2020/21.
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Dias has also proven to be very capable of carrying the ball upfield when not passing it there. His cumulative total of 4,414 yards spent running with the ball towards the opponents goal is the fourth most in the Premier League this season.
The Portuguese defender might not go into the final third with the ball too often just six of his 1,286 carries have ended there but hes adept at moving into midfield and laying it off to one of Citys creative players. This was certainly evident in his sides last big away game, at Stamford Bridge, where the only player Dias didnt pass to was Sergio Aguero, and the Argentine didnt come off the bench until the 86th minute.
With Pep often favouring a conservative approach at Anfield, Dias may not be as heavily involved in an attacking sense as he often is. But he has displayed his abilities in multiple matches this season so it is definitely something for the Reds to be wary of. And when you read about his strengths, do they remind you of those held by any particular Liverpool centre-back, by any chance? You can compare, if you wish.