Blues go into festive period in high spirits after victory over Arsenal
Having won the first six games of the season on the bounce, scoring 18 and conceding just five, you can be forgiven for thinking that Man City were going to run away with the league.
Guardiola’s men drew 3-3 to Celtic in the Champions League before losing 2-0 away to Tottenham. That draw to Celtic kick-started a run of six games without a win in all competitions. The Blues then drew 1-1 with Everton and Southampton, lost 4-0 to Barcelona in the Champions League and the defeat that perhaps hurt most of all, the 1-0 loss away to Manchester United that knocked them out of the League Cup.
But whilst the League Cup may be out of question this season, a revival in form shows that the Champions League and Premier League title are not yet out of sight. Guardiola’s men are currently third in the English league, one point behind second-placed Liverpool and seven behind leaders Chelsea. Antonio Conte is currently on an eleven-game winning streak with his side and whilst there is no doubt it will be hard to catch Chelsea, City are more than capable of doing so.
Bookmakers are also confident of City’s chances it seems with many offering sign-up promotions and free return bets on a £5 stake. This news hardly comes as a surprise however as the team sits at a comfortable 9/2 outright heading into Christmas – the real test of the punter’s nerve will be after January’s transfer window.
With Sergio Aguero and Ferdinando set to return to from suspension following their red cards vs Chelsea, and players like Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Toure, Kelechi Iheanacho and Raheem Sterling, there is no doubt that the attacking prowess and creative ability is there to catch their league rivals.
One department which Guardiola must improve is his is back four, at times this season City have been a defensive shambles and this showed as Arsenal were 1-0 up within five minutes in last weekend’s game. Aleksander Kolarov bizarrely stood off Alexis Sanchez, allowing him to turn and deliver a through ball to Theo Walcott who was left completely untracked by Nicolas Otamendi leaving Claudio Bravio hapless and Walcott ruthless in his finishing.
Fortunately for City, Leroy Sane and Sterling scored a goal each in the second-half to ensure their side secured victory. It’s comebacks and resilience like that which shows City do have the capability to win the league, however, they must be aware not everyone is such a pushover as Arsenal proved to be.
City can take momentum from their good league form and take that into the Champions League. Guardiola led his side to a second placed finish in Group C as they lost only to Barcelona who they also managed to be 3-1 at the Etihad. That victory shows City really can compete with anyone on the European stage and they are a match for the best.
And their draw could have been a lot worse, with City set to face Monaco, the quarter-finals are more than reachable so as long as though they guard against complacency. The club are second in Ligue One and four points behind leaders Nice so there is no denying they are in good form but City should be able to see them off with ease. A win at the Etihad and a draw away from home should be the bare minimum Guardiola is asking of his men.