Ilkay Gundogan has been unleashed by Joao Cancelo at Manchester City, says Jamie Carragher

Ilkay Gundogan has become Manchester City's main goalscorer in recent months and added two more to his total in Sunday's 4-1 win over Liverpool; Jamie Carragher believes his transformation is down to Joao Cancelo's positioning

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Jamie Carragher outlines how Ilkay Gundogan has added goals to his game in recent months with the help of Joao Cancelo

Jamie Carragher believes Joao Cancelo has been instrumental in Ilkay Gundogan's goalscoring transformation for Manchester City.

Gundogan scored his eighth and ninth Premier League goals of the campaign in City's 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

The midfielder's goal tally is already higher than in any of his previous four full seasons at the Etihad Stadium and he is also the Premier League's top scorer since December 15.

Ilkay Gundogan has scored nine Premier League goals since December 15
Image: Ilkay Gundogan has scored nine Premier League goals since December 15

"I think on the back of Man City having problems with strikers - (Gabriel) Jesus didn't play yesterday and (Sergio) Aguero is out - other people have had to step up to the plate and this man has done it more than anyone," said Carragher on Monday Night Football.

"What I find interesting on the back of yesterday (in the game against Liverpool) is that there was a system change at half-time and City went to 4-4-2.

Gundogan was part of a midfield four in the second half against Liverpool
Image: Gundogan was part of a midfield four in the second half against Liverpool

"Normally in a 4-4-2, the central midfield players are almost sitting players. They might join the attack, but even if they're scoring goals it's probably from a shot from outside the box.

"They're not really getting past the attacking players, so what I found fascinating yesterday is that Gundogan's two goals were from inside the six-yard box."

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Carragher believes it is largely thanks to Cancelo.

Cancelo picks up possession in the centre circle, allowing Gundogan to charge towards the Liverpool box
Image: Cancelo picks up possession in the centre circle, allowing Gundogan to charge towards the Liverpool box

The City full-back is instructed to move into central midfield in possession and, according to Carragher, his presence there allows Gundogan to get forward, into positions where City lack a focal point in the absence of Aguero and with Jesus out of favour.

"We have known for so long now about Pep's full-back's going into midfield," added the Sky Sports pundit. "It's nothing new. He's done it since he first came.

"But when Cancelo steps into midfield, it then means that Gundogan isn't a holding midfield player anymore.

Gundogan is seen between the lines at home to West Brom when Cancelo gets on the ball in central midfield
Image: Gundogan is seen between the lines at home to West Brom when Cancelo gets on the ball in central midfield

"He's an attacking eight, he's a number 10, he's between the lines and I think this relationship between those two has been pivotal.

"He's always making penetrating runs, putting his arm up and wanting to get involved.

Gundogan is played in behind by Cancelo for his goal away to West Brom
Image: Gundogan is played in behind by Cancelo for his goal away to West Brom

"This is not something we saw too much when he first came in.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win at Liverpool in the Premier League

"Certainly in the last couple of years, he's played more of a holding role.

"But now he is being encouraged to go forward and he's almost like the main striker."

Gundogan makes a run in behind Newcastle's defence
Image: Gundogan makes a run in behind Newcastle's defence

Gundogan had never scored more than six Premier League goals in a season for City until now and while his shot output has not changed dramatically this season, his conversion rate has.

"When you look at the stats, he's scoring over double the amount of goals he's got in previous seasons," said Carragher.

"The last couple of years whenever he's been in the team, you always felt he was in as a sitting player, next to Rodri or in place of Rodri or Fernandinho.

Gundogan is converting more chances and shooting from more dangerous positions
Image: Gundogan is converting more chances and shooting from more dangerous positions

"But the thing I want to highlight now is his shot conversion. The reason his shot conversion is so high is that he's having a lot more of his shots inside the box. That makes a big difference.

"He's gone from a goal every 10 shots to a goal every five shots because he's taking them from better areas and better positions. No silly shots from outside the box, hence why he's getting more chances of scoring."

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