‘You just wait… take Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero out of this Man Ciy side and they’ll be found out. Mark my words.’
Ah, that old chestnut.
Anyone who witnessed Man City pulverise Watford (how it finished 2-1 instead of 8-1 we’ll never know) on Tuesday night will have been struck by one thing.
So many key players were either missing or rested.
One, Kevin De Bruyne, has been absent almost all season, a big creative hole in the middle of their midfield.
That’s what you’d think, anyway.
Of course the ginger assassin ran proceedings last season, picking up 21 assists in all competitions.
His persistent knee injuries were meant to debilitate Pep Guardiola’s all conquering side, denying them of the brains of their organisation, their conductor-in-chief.
But, in a bizarre way, have City actually looked… better?
Bernardo Silva has been more just than an able deputy to De Bruyne and some believe he’s proving a smarter fit for Pep’s system.
Bernardo doesn’t quite have the jaw-dropping range of passing that the Belgian boasts but what he does bring is an effortless sense of control and composure.
Control being the key word.
City are still scoring at the same ridiculous rate as last season but they’re even more stoic at the back this time around, conceding just seven goals after 15 games.
Not only is Bernardo more versatile than De Bruyne, flitting in and out of various midfield positions, he seems more diligent and professional with his positioning.
Compare this season’s 0-0 draw at Anfield to the thrilling 4-3 defeat back in January.
City were exposed time and time again by Liverpool’s free-flowing attack, Fernandinho left too isolated.
This season though, with Bernardo starting and no De Bruyne in sight, the Reds were mostly toothless as City’s more organised midfield snuff out any attacks.
At 24, Silva Junior still has plenty of room in the tank to make even further developments too.
A scary thought.
De Bruyne is reportedly close to full fitness again, leaving Guardiola with yet another selection headache.
He might be the finest individual in the Premier League, but collectively are they better off without him?
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