Man City have found a way to win ugly and that looks set to propel them to a comfortable victory in the race for the Premiership title.
A month ago Pep Guardiola’s men were blowing teams away, regularly winning by four or five goal margins. They were playing scintillating football, the stuff of legends, and breaking records all over the place.
Now they are still winning, but with grit and determination rather than grace and panache. They have won their last three games by a scoreline of 2-1, and each time they have had to rely on a late winner to plunder all three points against middling opposition.
It has not been pretty, and they have ridden their luck, but these are the results that make champions.
Check a review of 5Dimes and you will see that Man City are favoured to beat Man Utd at Old Trafford in their next game. That is a sign of how greatly they have improved this season.
They are favourites to beat the team in second place, in their own backyard, and it just so happens to be their fierce local rivals. Their form is not at all as imperious as it was a month ago, but fans should be confident as they have shown an aptitude for rolling up their sleeves and fighting for crucial wins.
City are now still unbeaten as we head into the festive season and many pundits are questioning whether this team has the ability to join Arsenal as Premier League Invincibles.
The Gunners found a way to grind out results if ever the free-flowing, magisterial football escaped them back in 2003-04, and Man City are aping that 14 years later.
The run of fixtures in the build up to Christmas will give a better indication of their credentials. Consecutive 2-1 wins over Huddersfield, Southampton and West Brom is not the sort of form to leave rivals quaking in their boots, but City have shown they can juggle a busy schedule and keep winning.
They have had their fair share of injury problems, but keep shrugging them off and battling to victory. Their win against West Ham on Sunday equalled a Premiership record, held by Arsenal since 2001-02, for the most consecutive wins.
It is now 13 in a row for Guardiola’s men, and if they keep it going until the New Year they will be unstoppable.
If any neutrals are hoping that we will have a thrilling title race on our hands this season, the upcoming Manchester derby is huge. Utd earned a morale-boosting victory against Arsenal last time out and will be buoyed by the superhuman efforts of David De Gea, who equalled a Premiership record himself by making 14 saves against the Gunners.
Some were right out of the top drawer, particularly a double stop from Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez, and he will relish the chance to pit his wits against Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and co. A Utd win would reduce the gap to five points, kill off City’s air of invincibility and blow the title race wide open.
After the Utd game, City have to go to Swansea and then play Tottenham in a short space of time. If they drop points, we could have an interesting season on our hands.
If they win all three games, and they are favourites to do so, it will all be over before Christmas and the only intrigue left will be seeing who finishes fourth and who goes down.
Neutrals may hope City slip up, but the grittiness that has defined their recent run or results does not bode well for their rivals.
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