For all that the current Premier League season has been defined by a kind of anarchic chaos, over the last few months, Manchester City have very quietly and very assuredly crept their way to the top of the league table with minimal fuss.
Manchester City are starting to dominate the Premier League again
After a shaky start to the season, Pep Guardiola’s side seemed to have found the winning mentality. The sort which has brought them so much success over the last few years.
Winning the Premier League title two years on the spin is one thing, but to regain it having lost it would be yet another impressive achievement from this talented team. Manchester City’s first two title triumphs under Guardiola were lessons in dominance – sheer brilliance the like of which the Premier League has never seen before. The fact that Liverpool finished second in the 2018-19 season with 97 points just goes to show how good City were. And while those standards dipped last season, Guardiola seems to have found a winning formula once again.
Of course, the current campaign is unlikely to yield a similarly high points tally. City dropped plenty of points in the first few weeks of the season in matches where they were favourites in the bet exchange, but they have developed that healthy knack of being able to win games despite not playing particularly well. When they won the league previously, they have produced some blistering football. Blowing teams away with a flurry of goals. Now, they have become more measured, wiser as a result of their painful experience losing the title to Liverpool last season.
Indeed, the way City are currently playing and winning games is very similar to how Liverpool won the league last year. By sticking to their guns and grinding out results even when matches haven’t been going all their own way, they’re picking up points where other teams are dropping them. City’s gain has been Liverpool’s loss. The champions are struggling to get over the line in matches where teams make it difficult for them.
To say that City were finished after last season’s 18-point gap between themselves and Liverpool was fool’s talk. After all, Guardiola is too good a coach to not bounce back and produce greater results. He has a hugely talented squad at his disposal. And now that he seems to have sorted out City’s defensive problems through the arrival of Ruben Díaz and the improvement of John Stones, City look for all the world like they could ultimately cruise to a third Premier League title in four years.
Man Utd seem to have too many mistakes in them
There’s a long way to go, of course. Manchester United will be keen to push them all the way, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have a tendency towards slipping up every now and then and throwing in a poor result. Liverpool had looked to have recovered some form with wins against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. But the champions slipped to a dismal 1-0 defeat at home to Brighton in their most recent outing.
In a season where teams are struggling to maintain consistent levels of performance, largely due to the packed fixture calendar and resulting fatigue, City’s strength in depth was always likely to pay dividends in the end. Many people were pondering whether this strange campaign could produce a Leicester City-like fairytale? Where a team comes from nowhere to win the title. Instead, this could ultimately prove to be Manchester City’s most straight-forward Premier League triumph yet.