Jamie Redknapp has hailed the influence of Ruben Dias and compared him to Manchester United great Nemanja Vidic after the Portuguese centre back helped his side to yet another clean sheet as Manchester City defeated Arsenal 1-0 at the Emirates to maintain their 10-point lead at the Premier League summit.
Raheem Sterling's second-minute header gave the visitors the ideal start and, despite stubborn resistance from the Gunners, Pep Guardiola's men held out for their 13th straight top-flight win and their 18th successive triumph in all competitions.
Dias has been part of 14 shutouts in 22 top-flight games since arriving from Benfica in September for £65million and Redknapp has likened his impact to that of Red Devils stalwart Vidic, who joined United from Spartak Moscow in 2006 and went on to win five league titles and a Champions League and form a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand.
'They’ve found a partnership at the back that’s so assured [with him and John Stones]. I don't think anybody could’ve expected Dias would make the impact he is. He’s a leader of men.
'He goes over to give a high five. Like Vidic at United, Kompany, they have an effect on everyone around them.
'Last year, after 25 games, they had conceded 29 goals. But this year they’ve conceded 15 [at the same stage of the season, and a lot of that is to do with Dias. He was captain of Benfica at 19. Certain players come in and change a team.
'They weren't at their scintillating best today, but they were so assured [defensively]. It was pretty routine for them.'
Redknapp also reserved praise for Stones, who regained his place in the side on a regular basis in late November in place of Aymeric Laporte and has been immovable since then alongside Dias.
'Laporte is a very good player and I thought it would be Laporte and Dias [as the defensive partnership], but Stones has got his head down and right now looks as good as any centre-back in Europe.'
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Micah Richards also spoke in glowing terms about the pair.
'Dias does the simple thing well. He is a joy to watch and a cool, calm head. Sometimes watching City over previous seasons, you think 'where are they going to make a mistake?'. But he’s solidified the back line.
'Stones is doing well now because he’s doing the simple things well. When Aubameyang tried to run him, he’s getting pleasure out of making a tackle. You just need to do your job.'
Pep Guardiola's side next face Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League clash before hosting high-flying West Ham in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.