Pep Guardiola might have picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month trophy once again, but it is his German midfielder that has to take as much credit for City’s upturn in form as the Spanish manager.
Ilkay Gundogan is in the best form of his career and is making City purr as they stride towards the Premier League crown once more.
Far earlier in the season, Guardiola felt that City midfielders were not breaking into the box as often as he needed – one player took the message and did something about it.
Gundogan made it his personal aim to be the midfielder getting beyond the strikers and his recent goal return proves that – had he not missed the penalty at Anfield, he’d have walked away with his first Premier League hat-trick.
In the absence of Kevin de Bruyne, Gundogan is the first pick in Pep’s midfield – an amazing return to form from Guardiola’s first signing as City boss.
The German is the perfect Pep player – intelligent, quick in tight spaces and positionally very aware.
With David Silva leaving a big hole in City’s midfield – a hole many football tipster reviews felt Phil Foden would fill – someone had to step up and own it. Gundogan has done that and as a result, City’s form has turned and they look odds on to get their title back from Liverpool.
A lot has been said about the central defensive partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias – but a defence tightening up cannot be the only shift in City’s game. It’s also about having someone in the middle of the park prepared to overload in attacking areas, something that has become even more important when both de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are out.
City should ease past Tottenham this weekend, even if Spurs were the last team to beat them, and Gundogan will be an important part of that game plan.
Jose Mourinho will set his team up to sit deep against City, therefore condensing the space Gundogan has to run into – but, with his intelligence levels, he will be able to find the pockets to move into and be ready to capitalise on any errors in the Tottenham backline.
With Eric Dier suffering a lack of form, Gundogan can look to get in and around him alongside whichever ever central attacker that Pep selects. Spurs might sit deep but that does not guarantee defensive security.
However, when it comes to penalty kicks don’t be surprised to see Ederson getting the nod ahead of the current EPL player of the moment.