SPO_230428 JOHN STONES-1682678602190
Manchester City defender John Stones (right) celebrates after scoring the team's second goal with Erling Haaland during the English Premier League match against Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

London: The ability of Manchester City players to switch between formations and roles has been crucial for the club this season as they enter the home stretch of the campaign, defender John Stones said.

Stones has played at centre back for most of his career but City manager Pep Guardiola has deployed him as both a right back and defensive midfielder in recent weeks.

Familar territory

He was back in more familiar territory in the heart of City’s defence for their 4-1 win over title rivals Arsenal on Wednesday, with Guardiola tweaking the system with the London side in mind.

“We knew how they were going to play, and we worked on different scenarios in training,” Stones said.

“We and the manager thought this was the best way to beat them (Stones playing as a central defender) and it definitely worked. It shows we can adapt and change in a few days in our roles and responsibilities.”

Lack of adaptability

A lack of adaptability has left some players out in the cold at times. Kyle Walker was only able to return to the side at right back on Wednesday thanks to a change of system.

The England international had been on the bench in recent matches, with Guardiola saying it was because he could not play an inverted wing back role.

City are now just two points behind leaders Arsenal but have played two games less. They could go top on Sunday with a victory at Fulham.

“We’ve got a hectic schedule,” Stones said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We concentrate on what we can do and what we can affect, and we take it from there.”