All right it’s getting a bit annoying at this stage. The above W’s are not a typo, that is Pep Guardiola’s team current form. Man City are on a 17 match winning streak, and a 24 game undefeated run. For a team that were in eighth position after 14 games played, are now ten points clear at the top of the table after 24 games. That is one monumental seismic shift, but how did it happen? Will the dominance continue?
How did John Stones seem to turn his Man City career around. After a bad display against Tottenham, Alymeric Laporte has struggled to find his way back into the team. Pep has instead opted for a resurgent John Stones who has seemed to put injury and personal troubles behind him. Thats a remarkable turnaround for the Englishmen who was overlooked last season for midfielder Fernandiniho at the heart of defence. The partnership with Riben Dias is working out great with Man City not conceding in six successive home league games, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1902. Infact the team have 17 clean sheets in last 24 games.
Dias in his relatively short stint so far at the Etihad looks like an elite centre back, providing a vocal presence and authority, something City have lacked since Vincent Kompanys departure. Of course this has repercussions throughout the whole defensive shape, Joao Cancelo is now feeling the benefits of a confident backline. After a ropey first season the Portuguese man is proving to be both versatile and critical to the way City play, operating in two separate roles when team is attacking and then defending. This only comes with an assured centre back partnership.
This is an important one for City, they genuinely have a player for every position. Nathan Ake injured, no problem we have Laporte, Dias, Stones and Garcia. Aguero and Jesus are ruled out, well thats ok we have a litany of attacking midfielders that will score anyway. Imagine your in a match on the losing side and you look over to the sideline and see a returning Kevin De Bruyne is coming on for the opposition. Thats what Everton experienced last night and a collective groan was let out not only by the Toffees but by all the teams set to face Man City towards the end of the season.
It should also be noting that amongst that depth is a seemingly strong cohesion in the group. All players are tactically aware of each others roles and carry out their instructions to near perfection. Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva can slot in and out of the team with ease. Phil Foden also looks to be reaching his potential this season, scoring his 11th goal this season in last nights victory. All of these players hitting a purple patch of form helps ease any woes City fans may of had with no recognized goalscorer for large parts of the season.
While İlkay Gündoğan receives alot of plaudits for his performances this season but that can only be accomplished with Rodri controlling the middle of the park. The squad depth is quite staggering and something which the likes of Liverpool can only dream of.
Other teams failures
At different stages of the season it looked like that Liverpool, Leicester City, Manchester United, Spurs or even Chelsea could be realistic challengers for the title. City were almost playing second fiddle to all these teams earlier in the season after some poor performances. However all those above teams faltered at crucial times. Of course Liverpool’s injury crisis has played a huge role in their downfall. All you have to do is look at the above points of defensive partnerships and squad depth to realise how those missing components have ruined the Reds hopes of defending the title.
Manchester United have failed consistently at crucial stages of the season, dropping five points between both Sheffield United and West Brom, relegation fodder, is unforgivable. Even though the The Red Devils have scored more goals than any other team in the league, you their fragile defensive have conceded 34 goals. In Comparison City have scored 49 and let in a total of 15, the term you cant out-train a bad diet springs to mind. You can’t out-attack a bad defense.
City and Guardiola have been here before, current iterations of challenging teams have not. Spurs have not, this United team have not, this Chelsea team have not and this Leicester team have not. Certainly this current Liverpool side despite winning the league last season.
Ahead of their hectic schedule that includes Champions League, Fa Cup , Carabao Cup and Premier League, Man City are on course for an unprecedented quadruple. All the right beats seem to be hitting home for the blue side of Manchester, can they do it?