As we head into the international break, Manchester City sit at the top of the Premier League table with a healthy seven-point lead. The Citizen’s’ latest victory, a 3-1 win at home to Arsenal, coupled with Manchester United slipping up away at Chelsea, has left much to do for the chasing pack. But can anyone stop Manchester City?
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, has started the season with 31 points from 11 games. That number is higher than he ever managed to amass in the same amount of games at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Such a feat seems even more impressive when you look at the competition in the Premier League. In Spain, Guardiola mainly contested with Real Madrid, while his stint at Bayern Munich saw the Bavarian giants playing in a league of their own.
In England, there is a threat from five other teams – Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal. That City have already beaten three of those teams is even more impressive.
City are 1/6 for the title in the Premier League betting odds, and it would take a brave person to bet against them. One of the reasons for their success lies in the team’s dynamism. On paper, their set-up looks like a fairly straightforward 4-3-3 formation. Yet, on the pitch, no player is regimented to their position.
The central midfield is one of the key components. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne break the lines and pull strings, while Fernandinho sits behind just behind them. The Brazilian doesn’t act as a ‘traditional’ defensive midfielder, however.
In attack, City have a wealth options. Sergio Aguero has already scored eight goals and assisted a further three in seven starts, while Gabriel Jesus, City’s other striker, has seven goals and one assist from 10 appearances.
Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane provide pace from the wings, cutting in and acting as a second and third striker when City have the ball in the box. Sterling has seven goals from six starts; Leroy Sane has six from seven starts.
A case for the defence
The main difference between this season and last season for Manchester City is the defence. With only seven goals conceded – only Manchester United have let in fewer – City are a much tighter unit at the back.
You can attribute their defensive resurgence to improved coaching and better collective defending. Yet, it’s impossible to deny the stellar performances of Josh Stones. The young England defender faced criticism for the best part of last season after a string of shaky performances. This season, however, he’s consistently been one of the best defenders in the league.
His partnership with Nicolas Otamendi is bearing fruit, and City’s defensive improvement is highly impressive. Kyle Walker has picked up where he left off at Tottenham, offering a threat going forward and in defence in the right-back position. The signing of Ederson in goals seems to be another inspired piece of business.
A seven-point lead might not seem irreversible after only seven games, but they’re currently playing at a level above everyone else. With a goal difference of plus 31 to add to their points lead, it would take a monumental slip up for them to lose the title, even at this early stage.
There were many questions asked of Pep Guardiola after City’s third-place finish last season, where they finished 15 points behind champions Chelsea. This season, though, he has more than answered them, playing arguably the best football ever seen in the Premier League.