It has been a successful season for Manchester City so far. With the League Cup already in the bag for the second season in a row, there is more to come. Reaching the FA Cup final is another first under Pep Guardiola as the Catalan manager prepares to win a trophy he has never won before. Having masterminded a record-breaking Premier League campaign with the club last season, from all indications, he is ready to take it a notch higher this term. That’s thanks to key players putting forth top-notch performances to carry the team forward.
Different City players have stepped up to the plate this term and distinguished themselves among their peers. From the Premier League to the Champions League and the Cup competitions, it has been a commanding team performance that has always gotten the job done. But the team has indeed been the sum of its individual parts.
Every player who has been called upon has played a vital role in getting the team this far. Sergio Aguero not only became City’s all-time leading goalscorer, but continues to score important goals for the side when most needed. Bernardo Silva rose from obscurity and playing a bit part role last term to become one of Guardiola’s most reliable men this time around.
Vincent Kompany rolled back the years when he came in against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in January. Leroy Sane applied the finishing touch in the same game to underline his importance to the team despite not starting regularly. David Silva has been a calming influence in midfield. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte have formed a partnership that is one of the best in Europe. Otamendi comes in and does a fine job when either of them is out injured or needs a rest, just as Gabriel Jesus deputises effectively for Aguero.
Benjamin Mendy has rarely played. Although whenever he’s fit enough to play, he has been a breath of fresh air. But Oleksandr Zinchenko has made sure no one misses the Frenchman. And what will City’s defensive midfield be like without Fernandinho? Of course, Ilkay Gundogan shows up to fill any loopholes. Kyle Walker has not reached last season’s heights but neither has he been the worst right back in the league. The Englishman still puts in a good shift oftentimes. And when he can’t, Danilo comes to the rescue.
Words cannot even begin to describe goalkeeper Ederson’s role in this team. But suffice to say he reminds us of why Pep was right on Joe Hart (although he could have kept him as second or third choice given his legendary status at the club). Young Phil Foden is certainly not complaining about being second or third choice in midfield. Kevin De Bruyne has struggled with injuries but he now looks set to contribute his own quota for the remainder of the season.
One man has, however, been head and shoulders above the rest. In terms of improvement, consistency and overall excellence, Raheem Sterling has taken the taken the Premier League by storm. The 24-year-old has been City’s best player this term by far. With 19 goals and 11 assists for the club in all competitions, he has been the most productive in front of goal after Aguero.
The only player giving Sterling a run for his money is Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. The center back has been a revelation for the Anfield side this season. Together with goalkeeper Alisson Becker and the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, the group has been instrumental to the Reds’ title challenge this term. Add to that the full backs as Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been in inspired form.
In the end, the player of the season award will likely go to the team that lifts the Premier League title. So, if Man City end the campaign as champions again Sterling will be the clear favorite to land the award. But if Jurgen Klopp’s men triumph, then Van Dijk will likely win it. That is despite the fact that the City winger has been arguably the best player in the league this season and deserves the award.