Stones or Laporte: Who starts in the big games?
Right now, this question might seem like a non sensical one with Laporte having nailed down the starting spot alongside Dias. But, when it comes to the big games, i have a feeling that Pep is still not decided on the best partner for Dias. The primary reason for this is the fact that both Stones and Laporte offer significantly different qualities.
The case for Laporte
Pep has often said that Laporte is the best Left footed Centre back in the world. Laporte is excellent at pinging those diagonal balls to the winger. I have always thought that Pep prefers to have a Left footed centre back when playing against counter attacking teams. This is due to the opportunity for a fast build up, specially when the opposition is sitting back and inviting you on. Laporte is excellent at breaking defensive lines from deep with his passing.
What Laporte is not good at is one on one defending. It always seems like he can be turned easily when left one on one against a tricky winger. Also, when there are almost no gaps in the opponents defensive lines, like we saw against Crystal Palace, Laporte becomes a little ineffective. The reason being he is not that good a dribbler of the ball. I know that Pep is not a big fan of tackling, but when you are one on one, it always helps to have a good tackle. Tackling is also something that Laporte is not the best at.
The case for Stones
The career of Stones almost seemed finished at City until the start of last season. I personally thought that he should leave the club for the sake of his own career. He showed fantastic personality and character to come back and prove himself to Pep and keep Laporte out of the team for the major part of last season.
For me, Stones is one of the best defenders in the world, when it comes to coming out with the ball from the back. His dribbling is the envy of some of the best attacking wingers in the world. Honestly, i think he is in the top 3 dribblers in this City team. Tackling is where he significantly outscores Laporte. His one on one defending is very good and i have rarely seen an attacking player outfox him in one on one situations. His positioning is something that has always been questionable. Laporte outperforms him strongly in this aspect. The one thing about Stones is that he somehow seems to have that sense for danger, like his clearence off the line against Liverpool.
Laporte or Stones is almost an impossible question to answer, but i feel that if it was the biggest game of the season, Stones just edges it for me, just for his superior one on one defending ability, which is a major task of what Pep asks his defenders to do.