Garth Crooks has compared Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho to legendary Manchester United captain and midfield lynchpin Roy Keane following his standout performance against Liverpool.

The 33-year-old Brazilian international has been a pivotal figure for the Premier League champions since joining from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 and was again vital as Pep Guardiola’s men ran out 2-1 winners over table-toppers Liverpool to reduce their lead to four points.

The importance of Fernandinho. Five key things to know…

  1. Fernandinho has featured in 19 of City’s opening 21 league matches this season.
  2. With him in the side City have won 16 of those games and drawing twice.
  3. He’s been on the losing side just once: a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea last December.
  4. The games Fernandinho missed, due to injury, saw City lose back-to-back against Crystal Palace (2-3) and Leicester City (2-1).
  5. Fernandinho, a defensive midfielder of great repute, averages 1.47 interceptions and 2.18 tackles per game.

His presence was a relief to City fans who in recent weeks saw their side falter without him. Fernandinho was here, there and everywhere as City went about winning the midfield battle against Liverpool’s big match trio of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner.

It was yet another of Fernandinho’s candidacy to be among the best defensive midfielders around; one of his biggest supporters is Crooks who compared his selfless performance to Keane and feels if City are to defend their crown then it’s key their ‘number 25’ remains healthy.

“I said last week in this column that Manchester City cannot win the title without Fernandinho in their team,” he told BBC Sport. “If ever there was a performance that highlighted that statement then his contribution against Liverpool must be it.

“The Brazil international was amazing and he is one of the most selfless players I have ever seen. It’s the stuff that makes players great. Roy Keane had it, N’Golo Kante certainly has it and Fernandinho has it without question.”

“One for the history books”

To say Fernandinho captured the imagination (once again) is an understatement. He was pivotal to City capturing last season’s championship alongside David Silva’s genius playmaking, Kevin De Bruyne’s control and their relentless attack.

But there is a sheer importance to Fernandinho and what he brings, much the same as Kante at Chelsea, in fact, City boss Guardiola – a skilful defensive midfielder during his illustrious playing career – even boasted he wasn’t as good as his Brazilian enforcer.

Those watching simply lauded Fernandinho in what is now becoming a customary display.

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