Not another article praising Man City to the hilt…
Yep, afraid so.
While Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been relentlessly impressive all season, in the last month or so a couple of Man City’s understudies have enjoyed some time in the spotlight.
Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan would be guaranteed starters for almost any other team in the world; but with the embarrassment of riches at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, this tremendous pair have had to wait their turn this season.
The German midfielder’s brace against Basel in the Champions League was just reward for his unerring form.
Gundogan was ruled out for 250 days with a ruptured cruciate and so it’s understandable that he took a while to shift into top gear.
Since David Silva reduced his workload, the former Borussia Dortmund man as kept the City machine well-oiled.
His decision-making, when to put a foot on the ball and when to up to the tempo, has been exemplary in recent weeks.
And in an age when midfielders are increasingly divided into either shields or creators, his dynamic box-to-box style makes him more than a useful asset for Guardiola in his hunt for the quadruple.
Then there’s Bernardo Silva.
Did you know the Portuguese playmaker has featured in more games (39) this season than any other City player?
He’s featured in every single matchday squad and Guardiola was full of praise for the lesser appreciated Silva ahead of City’strip to Wigan in the FA Cup.
“When he played he’s played top,” he said. “He’s a young guy, he’s a guy in the locker room who we are so happy to have here.
“He’ll stay a long time, while I’m here he will not move on, he will stay with me.
“I haven’t seen him sad, even for one day – always in a good mood, and you can not imagine how important that is.
“When he didn’t play too much, you can not imagine how important he is in the locker room and he’s this kind of guy, his mood is always in the right place.”
Bernardo’s numbers may not be on par with Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane or soon-to-be Player of the Year De Bruyne but he’s class act.
In possession of perhaps the best first touch in the squad, his technical ability makes him an archetypal Guardiola player.
City’s strength in depth in the advanced positions means the quadruple is a very real possibility.
Bernardo and Gundogan are not technically first-choice players but the starting XI is no less formidable with them occupying two of the key positions.
Guardiola also has a pair of wonderkids waiting in the wings in Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden, as well as the experience of Yaya Toure, and Gabriel Jesus, when he regains fitness.
The league is all but won and only Arsenal stand in City’s way of lifting the League Cup this coming Sunday.
Victory over Wigan will take them into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
A 4-0 away win over Basel means their spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League is virtually confirmed as well.
That means, as of next week, there’s potentially only nine games between City and a hat-trick of cups to add to their inevitable league title.
The odds are stacked against them but it’s on; it’s most definitely on.