Manchester City are off to a flying start this season after collecting 31 points from the available 33, scoring 38 goals in the process, which is a record in itself.
After bullying majority of their opponents this term, the Citizens currently sit at the top of the Premier League table having opened up an eight-point lead over second-placed cross-town rivals Manchester United.
The kind of football City are playing at the moment is absolutely breathtaking, which resembles Pep Guardiola’s footballing philosophy, however, they started last season in a similar fashion winning their first ten fixtures, but eventually faded away towards the end of the campaign, as the Catalan coach failed to win a single major trophy in his first season in charge.
So, what exactly were Manchester City lacking last season? and can they continue their excellent form this year?
STRUGGLES OF LAST SEASON
When the announcement was made that Manuel Pellegrini is going to be succeeded by Pep Guardiola in 2015, the fans of the Sky Blues were left absolutely thrilled by the masterstroke pulled off by their Director of football Txiki Begiristain. Manchester City had got their hands on one of the most sought-after coaches in modern football. The kind of football that Guardiola makes his teams play was put simply magical.
After a hectic summer transfer window and a grueling pre-season in 2016, Pep Guardiola’s men started the Premier League in an emphatic fashion winning all of their first six fixtures before losing out to Spurs 0-2 which would be a key turning point in the season. That loss was followed by two draws against Everton and Southampton and despite still early in the season, Guardiola was under immense pressure.
His critics pointed out the fact that management in the Premier League was certainly going to be a difficult feat. Uncertainty in front of the goal, defensive lapses and injuries to key players marred the Citizens’ title challenge last season.
Humiliating losses at the hands of Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester City and Everton clearly highlighted Manchester City’s problems at the back. Partly due to injuries to Vincent Kompany and summer signing Ilkay Gundogan and partly due to the inconsistency of important players like Claudio Bravo and John Stones, City could only achieve a hard-fought third-place finish in the Premier League. In the Champions League, the Sky Blues fell just short of overcoming Leonardo Jardim’s high spirited Monaco side in the round of 16.
The Citizens’ failure to kill the games off in regulation time was highlighted in the FA Cup Semifinal where they succumbed to a narrow defeat against Arsenal and the League Cup defeat at the hands of rivals Manchester United in September meant that the only silverware they could have won, which could have salvaged some pride for them slipped through their hands like sand.
CHANGE OF FORTUNES THIS SEASON
This season though, after finetuning his squad in the summer, Guardiola has a genuine chance to deliver his first trophy in the blue of Manchester. Already marching ahead of the pack, the Sky Blues are believed to be the favorites to win the Premier League this season and their Catalan manager recently acknowledged in a press conference that Manchester City have more “belief” this season as compared to last year.
Indeed reflecting their trainer’s words on the pitch, all of Manchester City’s players have been in a good form lately. Ederson has been rock solid between the posts and delivers exactly what Guardiola asks of him. Central defender John Stones seems more like a midfielder only that he has had to tackle and head the ball more often. Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane have been marauding opposition defenders with their pace and the latter has officially become the fastest player in the Premier League.
In the center of the park, Fernandinho has been the pivot providing the likes of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne the freedom and space to do what they do best. Kevin de Bruyne has been instrumental for his team this season and the ever-present David Silva is running the show as always at the Etihad. Add to that the creativity of Bernardo Silva and the Yaya Toure, who can surely step up and deliver whenever called into the playing eleven by the manager.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) November 3, 2017
Sergio Aguero recently scored his 178th goal for the Citizens against Napoli thereby becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. The Argentine has been a world class player for City and has been elevated to a whole new level by Pep Guardiola. His partner in crime, Gabriel Jesus who was struggling with injuries last year has been looking sharp so far, amassing 7 goals already this term in the Premier League.
178 – Sergio Aguero is now the highest scoring player in Manchester City’s history (178 goals in 264 apps). Iconic. pic.twitter.com/6RSx7wwHo1
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 1, 2017
Overall, this Manchester City team looks a total upgrade of last year’s team. Guardiola’s charges have scored more goals, conceded fewer than last year, and have been playing brilliant attacking football as of yet, having stolen the march on their fellow title challengers in the process and if they continue to dominate teams like they have been doing in the past, then the elusive Premier League title shall soon be theirs.
Having overcome their shortcomings of last season, Machester City seem like genuine title contenders this term, and unlike last season, they have found the killer touch this year, which could be crucial for their title credentials.