When Bacary Sagna picked up a £40,000 fine recently from the FA, for comments posted on social media that questioned the integrity of match official Lee Mason, it didn’t raise too many eyebrows. The Manchester City full-back had picked up his second caution of the season in City’s 2-1 victory over Burnley at the Etihad for protesting against a decision and clearly hadn’t been prepared to let the matter die.
However, what is more startling is the fact that Sagna now has more cautions than fouls committed to his name for the entire season. Despite finding himself in the starting XI on 10 occasions, the French right-back has only committed one Premier League foul all season, in September’s clash with Swansea City, in which he picked up his other yellow card, after bringing down the Swans’ Kyle Naughton.
He’s not the only City defender who is relatively foul-free either this season. Sagna’s team-mates John Stones and Gaël Clichy also feature on Oulala’s ‘least dirtiest defenders’ list.
Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Bayern Munich team recorded fewer fouls per game than any other Bundeliga club during his 3 year stint in Germany but that was in a league in which they dominated and his Manchester City project still looks very much like a work-in-progress, so it might be fair for their fans to expect his players to show a bit more urgency when the opposition are in possession. The Citizens have, after all, only secured 4 clean sheets all season, a remarkably poor return for a club with title aspirations.
Having said that, they have picked up more red cards (4) than any other Premier League club, while Aleksandar Kolarov and Nicolás Otamendi, the other two City defenders to feature regularly this season, have committed 26 and 20 fouls respectively.
Is the Manchester City defence lacking bite and should Sagna, Stones and Clichy be committing more fouls ?