There is something increasingly ominous about Manchester City right now. There cannot be many defences out there who will be relishing facing the Sané-Aguero-Sterling SAS trident. All three forwards are in a rich vein of form and whisper it, but The Blues are again looking the real deal.
It`s the obvious togetherness across the squad that strikes me 40 games into the season`s campaigns. Each goal against Huddersfield, like all of those struck since the team capitulated to 4 Everton shots at goal almost 2 months ago are celebrated by the whole side as if they know they are sensing big achievements are within their grasp. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola has a mean, shark-eyed look about him that suggests his hunger mirrors that of his increasingly exciting and on message side.
It really is all good. In the Premier League, the Moyesiah and his woeful Sunderland New York Dodgers are next up rapidly followed by Leslie Hughes` erratic Stoke side. Beat both of them and Milneymar and his trophyless, nosediving Liverpool team come to town signalling the start of a top five triple header which will include the aforementioned mickeys, Arsenal and Chelsea. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves it is beginning to feel like the blue sky`s the limit!
The second of our quests, in an FA Cup run representing perhaps our most favourable opportunity for silverware, brings us to face our perennial bogey team Middlesbrough on Teeside. Enduring a wretched season, the big question is whether or not Aitor Karanka will prioritise Premier League survival over the cup. His side face the Stretford Galactico-Houdinis 8 days after 4,500 Blues hit the Riverside and his team will be hard pressed to avoid another referee facilitated rag scrape-through. In any case, Pep wants to reach Wembley and few would bet against City winning their umpteenth straight cup tie on the road.
Dare I say above all else, the small matter of seeing off Monaco by the Mediterranean is sandwiched between that game and a beleaguered Jurgen Klopp`s side who still find the media refusing to call “crisis” over their catastrophic run of form. Monaco will be really fired up for this one and we can expect them to hit us hard from the off. The type of dozy defending and delayed reaction goalkeeping that gifted the Terriers the lead last night can expect to be severely punished. The big question for the encounter in the principality however will be can Les Monagasques last the City pace in the way that PSG last season and themselves at the Etihad sorely failed to do?
Which brings me on to the key to the business end of our season. City`s fitness levels have statistically improved this season, a couple of lengthy absences aside, the days of what seemed to be a hamstring per week under Manuel Pellegrini appear to be a hindrance of the past. We face 16 more guaranteed fixtures and potentially more aside. The turgid performance at Huddersfield suggested the squad`s strength in depth is nowhere near what is required so much will depend upon how Pep manages the core players through the intensive run of fixtures detailed above. Mark this too, Sunderland and Stoke carry a few assassins so one would hope the Blues are afforded the type of even handed officiating that has thus far eluded them. Suspensions are another element we could well do without so discipline borne out of harsh lessons learned on Pep`s steep learning curve is going to be a pre-requisite.
Still, we appear to well and truly back on the up and the mood across Planet Blue is back in the next game can`t come around quick enough mode. In further good news, the decision to operate almost immediately upon Gabriel Jesus` foot injury looks to be paying dividends. The brilliant teenager cannot wait to get weaving again and the space age treatment he is undergoing makes him a dead cert to be mixing it up again for the run-in. If the City medics can also finally help get our leader Vincent Kompany through a run of games and back to his best, our season will benefit from another timely boost. Come On City!
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