Manchester City's philosophy will bring more success this season - Tim Cahill analysis
Manchester City's philosophy is to try to win everything - so they focus on every game in the same way, whether it is in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup or League Cup.
That is why they have done so well in the domestic cups in recent seasons - because they don't really change anything for those competitions, whoever they play.
City ended up having quite a relaxed time against 10 men in Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round win over Fulham, but they went into the game the same way they would any Premier league match and, as usual, put 100% into their performance too.
They also never give up until the very end, and there is no way they will let their standards drop in the Premier League just because Liverpool have got a big lead at the top at the moment.
I think that is a good approach to have, because they still have three other trophies to go for in the next four months.
The league title looks like it will end up at Anfield but if City can have some success in the cup competitions - which I think they will - then it will still be a successful season for them.
In 2017-18, City were completely dominant and won the league by 19 points, but there was never going to be a situation where no other teams became competitive.
Liverpool pushed them extremely close last season and have maintained their amazing form since then so, rather than criticise City for not being closer this time, I think you have to give credit to Jurgen Klopp's side for their consistency.
Preparation will not be a problem for City
While I can see City winning at least one domestic cup, winning the Champions League will be a big ask for them.
They are up against better players and teams in Europe, so of course it will be more difficult.
Clearly they have a chance, though. You never know in the Champions League and City have been around the block enough times now to know what to expect in the knockout stages this time.
If they do fall short, however, then it categorically will not be down to a lack of preparation. It is more a question of whether they can produce the sort of performances we know they are capable of.
They will be ready for Real Madrid when they face them in the last 16 next month because, when Pep Guardiola is your manager, you are ready for anyone.
Laporte return a positive for City
It is a positive for Guardiola that his regular centre-half Aymeric Laporte is back now after his long-term injury, and that Oleksandr Zinchenko is available again at left-back too.
In Laporte's absence, Fernandinho has been the mainstay of City's defence but I don't think it is an issue that they have hardly played together at the back as they go into the final part of the season.
City's system and style is the same whoever is in the team, so all of their players always understand how they play anyway, however Guardiola rotates things.
I actually think their chemistry at the back will be better with Fernandinho and Laporte in the same side but, in any case, the manager will have bigger calls to make with his squad in the next few months.
He has to manage the fitness of all of his players, in terms of how many minutes they have in their legs, to ensure they can last the duration.
|Man City's next five games|
|Date||Competition & stage||Opponents & venue|
|* City lead 3-1 from the first leg|
|Wednesday, 29 Jan||Carabao Cup semi-final second leg*||Man Utd (h)|
|Sunday, 2 Feb||Premier League||Tottenham (a)|
|Sunday, 9 Feb||Premier League||West Ham (h)|
|Saturday, 22 Feb||Premier League||Leicester (a)|
|Wednesday, 26 Feb||Champions League R16 first leg||Real Madrid (a)|
They have got a tough month coming up before the first leg of the Real tie, including away games at Tottenham and Leicester, but Guardiola is not going to change the way he prepares for those matches just because they have a trip to the Bernabeu on the horizon.
City on the transition is not a major worry
We briefly looked into how City can be vulnerable on the transition - or, in other words, when they have just lost the ball - when I was speaking on BBC One after the Fulham game.
As I said on the show, if they make a mistake at that point then they are more likely to be punished by the top teams in the Champions League because those players will hurt you in a big way.
From watching City, and seeing them hit on the transition with speed by the likes of Wolves and Manchester United recently, I do think it could be an issue for them.
But it is not a major worry or weakness. It is only the same thing City will look to do to opponents in Europe themselves, and we know how much damage they can do to defences on the transition when Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne or Raheem Sterling drive at teams.
Tim Cahill was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.