MANCHESTER ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Joleon Lescott of Manchester City celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium on December 28 2010 in Manchester England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
From an interview with Daniel Taylor with Joleon Lescott in todays Guardian:
"A year is a long time to settle in but, if you're not playing, you're going to need that time. I was always confident I could perform if I was playing regularly. But you need that run of games to be at your best."
It is a nice piece by Taylor, coming at a time when Lescott has finally got a consistent run under his belt and looks to have established himself in the line-up, with it worth remembering that he had dislodged Kolo Toure prior to Toure's recent suspension.
It hasn't been an easy road for Lescott since his contentious and very public move from Everton, suffering injuries along the way but never quite appearing to gain the trust of Roberto Mancini - who arrived a matter of months after Lescott himsef had signed.
The feeling was that Lescott was struggling to justify the fee Mark Hughes paid Everton for him and it was a position in the squad where - largely thanks to the real emergence by Vincent Kompany - there was plenty of competition. Even this season, with Nedum Onouha out on loan at Sunderland, Lescott was on the outside looking in with Toure getting the all at the start of the season.
Whilst Lescot was featuring in the Europa League games the nadir came when Dedryck Boyata was selected ahead of him. Boyata's early red card may have set back his own progress but allowed a way back in for Lescott as he battled with Toure for a start before Mancini handed Lescott the job ahead of the derby at Old Trafford.
The past few weeks has seen Lescott finally showing his best form for the club - no coincidence that he is now getting a run in the side as although shining on occasion during his infrequent appearances earlier this year (including some at left back of course) at times he looked static and one-dimensional. His game though has visibly improved though and it is importnt to noe tht it was merit, not fortune that saw him become a regular.
I ran this post recently on this defensive partnerships that showed the burgeonig Lescott/Kompany pairing and since then (from the Aris return leg onwards) Lescott has featured in all seven games, with Lescott also paired with Toure and Jerome Boateng during Kompany's recent spell on the sidelines.
Their record at the time of the original post was P6 W5 D0 L1 GA8 GAA1.33 with just one clean sheet posted, meaning although their winning percentage was higher than the Kompany/Toure duo, their GAA and clean sheet record was inferior.
Since then however, they have featured together a further five times, posting a record of P5 W4 D0 L1 GA2 GAA0.4 with all four of the victories aided by clean sheets. (The two games with Toure and Boateng only yielded a single goal also in two victories). This means that comparitively, the partnerships now look as follows:
Kompany/Toure: P23 W12 D7 L4 GA15 GAA0.65 CS12
Kompany/Lescott: P11 W9 D0 L2 GA10 GAA0.91 CS5
And an individual comparison between Lescott and Toure in the total games they have featured in:
Toure: P28 W14 D10 L4 GA21 GAA0.75 CS14
Lescott: P19 W13 D3 L3 GA18 GAA0.95 CS8
Both the GA and clean sheet figures for the Kompany/Lescott pairing have improved of late - a sign of their growing compatability perhaps and with a maximum of eleven games left over the season, expect their numbers to get even closer to Kompany/Toure's with an important feature being their superior winning percentage.
With Lescott seemingly grasping a stranglehold on one of the central positions and both the short and long-term future of Kolo Toure uncertain at this point, a strong finish over the remainder of the 2010/11 season will surely finally see Joleon Lescott become an undisputed choice in the side.