“To drop Bernardo right now is impossible, it’s him and ten more players. Every single game he’s been perfect. We take a decision on the movement, the way he leads the game, involved in all.”
For Pep Guardiola to display such favouritism is a rarity, and it can only mean that for all his chopping and changing, the diminutive Portuguese midfielder is his go-to guy, his general on the field of play, and the man he will be depending on to get revenge over Chelsea.
Be sure to check out the incredible story of the man who rose from a Tanzanian refugee camp to become one of Australia’s biggest football stars in the video below…
Maurizio Sarri’s men did a job on the Citizens back in December at Stamford Bridge, coming out on top by two goals to nil in convincing fashion, although you would expect Guardiola to amend his errors from that day.
Last time out against Everton, Silva was pivotal in the champions returning to the top of the table with a 2-0 win, orchestrating the play out on the right flank.
The former Monaco man is so effective there through his ability to go almost anywhere he wants infield, cutting in on that left foot. That, coupled with his immense technical ability, can allow him to pop up at right-back, centre-midfield or in the No.10 role, where any space he vacates allows Kyle Walker to bomb past him on the overlap – this feature of play will be pivotal to City’s success against Chelsea.
It is down that side where City can hurt the Blues. Sarri is incidentally unsure of who he prefers at left-back right now, judging by his decision to bring Emerson Palmieri in from the cold to replace Marcos Alonso for the trip to Bournemouth at the end of January.
Of course, as we all know, the Cherries battered them 4-0, and Sarri consequently restored the Spanish international to the starting eleven for the 5-0 win over Huddersfield. However, the stroll against the Terriers will be a world away from the threat that City will pose, so Alonso’s weaknesses that saw him dropped originally should be targeted.
In saying what he did about Silva, could that be a ploy by Guardiola in itself to get Sarri to focus more on the 24-year-old and man mark him, thus allowing the playmaker to take one of Chelsea’s players wherever he wants in order to create space?
It is unlikely that Sarri would do that, as he is more focused on his own side rather than setting out to nullify the opposition, but it is Silva’s non-fixated role that throws defenders off and makes them wonder who they should be marking.
Guardiola opted to start Riyad Mahrez in Silva’s position in the reverse of this fixture, so Sarri has a lot of work to do this time around if he is to nullify the ‘undroppable’.