As we immerse ourselves in the busy festive and New Year period, the intensity for games doesn’t let up in the Premier League. With crucial points up for grabs, now is the ideal time to make a significant shift in your season and set things up nicely going into the second half of the campaign.
Manchester City might not be as fluid as they have been in recent seasons, but things are now appearing to get back on track for Pep Guardiola’s team as they aim to chase down Liverpool once again.
Despite only losing twice so far this season, many have written off the Spaniard’s team as title challengers already, winning their game in hand will leave them five points off the Merseyside outfit but you’d write them off at your peril.
Granted they need to find some consistent form winning games, five draws already are the reason they are so far behind and as Spurs have found turning wins into draws can prove costly.
Guardiola appears to have a more settled defensive partnership in Ruben Dias and John Stones, the latter now back in favour and finding some form when a place on the bench looked likely to be his home and another Englishman unable to make his mark at the Etihad Stadium like so many before.
Whilst their defensive record has still been impressive, the real issues have come at the other end of the pitch. Normally such a lethal outfit who racked up 102 goals in their 38 matches last season but still couldn’t overhaul Liverpool, this season has seen them struggle to hit the target.
The loss of both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus at intervals during the opening 13 games and a combined total of just five goals between the pair tells its own story. But it’s not just with the strikers where the problem lies, the normally reliable Kevin De Bruyne has only managed to find the net twice although he has provided 11 assists.
It can however just take a single goal to win a game but it’s not often Manchester City turn up and walk away with a 1-0 win, they win with style and goals.
The festive fixtures will certainly give them a test of their title and top four credentials, a home game with Newcastle Utd would expect to yield three points with not many outfits managing to get much joy at the Etihad Stadium. However tougher tests await after that game with trips to Everton and Chelsea, both top four challengers this season and the former seemingly back in a good run of form. Whilst a defeat in any of these games wouldn’t end a title challenge after 14 games Guardiola will be well aware that they can’t afford to drop too many more points if Liverpool keep on winning.
After this week’s Carabao Cup tie and potentially two FA Cup ties to play until the Champions League resumes in late February the Premier League is centre stage and emphasis must be on keeping this unbeaten run going if they are to have any chance of reeling in the champions this season.
Both Guardiola and the club will know that they need to strengthen in the summer in order to regroup and revitalise the players they have there now and to not be left behind, this season is possibly the most competitive to reach the top four for many a year, it certainly won’t help City’s business model should they miss out.
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