Pep Guardiola says don’t even think about a quadruple — “Forget about it. That is not going to happen.” — but the fact remains a double is nearly on the doorstep.
Already unbeaten in league play with an 11-point lead on the field, Manchester City is now two round wins from a League Cup title following a quarterfinal win over Leicester City in penalty kicks.
[ RECAP: Leicester 1-1 (3-4 PKs) Man City ]
City did the job despite starting a bunch of kids and subbing in a few more. Oleksandr Zinchenko was impressive in the midfield, one of a few irregular starters including Tosin Adarabioyo, Brahim Diaz, and Phil Foden. Tom Dele-Bashiru and Lukas Nmecha subbed into the match, with the latter converting a penalty.
It’s all about trusting the kids — along with some steely vets in Yaya Toure and Ilkay Gundogan — and those youngsters probably should’ve won in regulation. Referee Bobby Madley gave a penalty to Demarai Gray for a very soft run-in with Kyle Walker in the sixth of eight minutes of stoppage time (in a 1-0 game where the goal came in the first half!).
Guardiola loved it, dancing on the field and gesticulating toward the visiting support. The kids had done it on the road.
“I’m so happy. A lot of young players played. I’m so happy for all the players. The way we had to react was not easy, we were tired, we had a lot of young players, Danilo was playing at centre-back for the first time in his life. It’s not easy because Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were there.
“What I liked the most is how we reacted and overcame that situation. It’s a good indication for the future. They showed me very good things. How you react is important and there were no complaints from the players in extra time about how it was unfair that they had scored a late goal.”
The Danilo comment shows another wise play by Guardiola who, in an emergency, has now taken another player and earned him experience against good competition at multiple positions.
It’s hard not to glow about Man City right now. Even those who want to rip Guardiola for only coaching big budget teams can’t say much about a win like Tuesday’s at the King Power Stadium.