Joe Cole lauded the combination of John Stones and Ruben Dias at Man city defence

Joe Cole lauded the combination of John Stones and Ruben Dias at Man city defence

Joe Cole lauded Manchester City's defensive duo John Stones and Ruben Dias after the pair both scored in their side's 2-1 victory over West Ham.

Dias headed home Kevin de Bruyne's brilliant cross in the first-half before Stones swept home Riyad Mahrez's ball in the second-half as Pep Guardiola's City moved 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table for 24 hours at least.

The arrival of £51million defender Dias has not only boosted City's backline but the Portuguese international's partnership with Stones has given the England centre-back a new lease of life at the Etihad Stadium.

When asked about Stones' return to form, Cole told BT Sport: 'No one has ever doubted what he can do on the ball. He's probably as technically efficient as a decent striker with the ball at his feet. It was the other side of his game people questioned.

'Even I was thinking, is he ever going to get there (at City)? Then you look at his age, he's in his mid-twenties, he's made all his mistakes and he's learned from it.

'A young player has come in next to him, Dias, and jolted him because he's the finished article. It's very rare a player that young is the finished article like Dias is, it's a great bit of recruitment.

'They've put those two (Stones and Dias) together and they've conceded three goals in 16 games, which is just giving a platform for everyone else. Together they look unstoppable.'

Guardiola's City were made to work against high-flying West Ham as Michail Antonio's equalised for the Hammers just after Dias' first-half opener.

David Moyes' side, who began the afternoon in fourth place in the Premier League, frustrated the league leaders for just over an hour before Stones' sweeping winner on 68 minutes.

Despite his goal, West Ham striker Antonio was allowed very few opportunities at the Etihad Stadium, with the Hammers' best chance of a second goal coming through Issa Diop's inaccurate header from inside the box in what was the last kick of the game.

Antonio's lack of involvement in Manchester was partly down to the good work of Stones and Dias, according to BT Sport pundit Cole - who also hinted the City duo can be as good as the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

The ex-Hammers midfielder said: 'They were the boss of the situation, dealing with Antonio who is one of the toughest to mark.

'It's been a long time, I'd say since Vincent Kompany, that the attacking players know they've got players at the back who can deal with situations.

'We've talked about the great pairings, Vidic and Ferdinand, (John) Terry and (William) Gallas, (Gary) Pallister and (Steve) Bruce. Listen it's early days for these two but what a start they've had. And the fact they're 25 and 21 is unbelievable.

'It's unnerving for the rest of the league how good the team, the squad, the club is. It's very classy, but it's up to the rest to catch them up.'

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