Can one of the best players of the last decade help City move closer to a third Premier League title?

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Saturday afternoon saw Manchester United halt Liverpool in their quest to finish second in the Premier League – two goals from Rashford proved enough to give the reds three points.

Tonight it is City’s turn as they head to Stoke – the phrase ‘can they do it on a wet and windy night in Stoke’ has apt meaning for this game. But do it they must.

Yes, the blues may have all but won the league this season, but following the defeat to Basel in the Champions League – despite still going through with a superior aggregate score from the first leg – Guardiola’s men must get back to their winning ways.

It is important not just for the Premier League points, it is significant due to this being the last time they will play for several weeks due to the international break.

Sergio Aguero will have to wait a little longer for that elusive 200th club goal for City after being ruled out of tonight’s match with discomfort in his knee during training at the weekend.

Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho are pushing to get back into the starting line up following their recovery from injury. But if there is one man who is a certain to start when available it is, without question, David Silva.

Perhaps partly responsible for the incredible season that Kevin De Bruyne has put in this year, Silva has long been regarded as one of the best midfielders in the league – if not the world.

The man they call Merlin really does inject magic into games, finding passes from anywhere and even scoring a couple every now and then.

Pep Guardiola has never held back in his praise of his star midfielder, whom he sees as vital to the blues playing the ‘Guardiola way’.

Silva missed the home defeat to Basel due to travelling back home to Valencia to spend time with his wife and son who was born extremely prematurely. Guardiola and the club have always stated that family comes first, and he was welcome to take whatever time he required.

Monday night will see David Silva return to the starting line up, and in the lead up to the game Guardiola has paid tribute to the Spanish midfield maestro.

“We’ve said many times before that family is the most important thing,” said Guardiola.

“He wants to be here but sometimes he needs to go back and see his son and wife, who are doing well. He has to go there.

“Of course he knows he has to train, because you cannot play well if you don’t train for a long time.

“He trains on his own in Valencia when he goes there – and of course in the game against Basel, he decided to go to Valencia.

“He came back and trained and he will be ready to play against Stoke City, and after that, when we will go to Abu Dhabi, he will stay in Spain.

“What has happened has happened. His family and son are the most important thing. Hopefully he can sort it as soon as possible, his lovely kid can grow and grow and he can stay with us all day.

“David has got a lot of technical skills in a complicated league with the physicality, the weather conditions, the pitches, and he has survived to be one of the best players in England for a decade.

“He has been here for a long time and is playing in a high level. We are so happy to have him to extend his contract. It means a lot.

“He is a huge competitor. He is shy, he doesn’t speak too much but on the pitch when the moment is there and the game is on he is the guy who never hides in tough conditions when the game is not going well.”

There is no doubt that Silva is a firm fan favourite with the blues faithful, and for good reason. As Guardiola eluded to, he is a quiet but determined player who rarely goes missing, especially for the big games.

Given the wealth of talent on display, not only in the Premier League but across all of the biggest leagues in the world, Guardiola’s claim may seem generous.

But for a player who constantly delivers, and from a manager who has coached some of the best players, it’s likely accurate.

What do YOU think?

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