Manchester City remain the only unbeaten team this Premier League campaign and questions have been asked in recent weeks as to whether Pep Guardiola’s team can go the whole season without defeat and mimic the incredible achievement of Arsene Wenger’s invincibles of the 2003-04 season. 90MAAT takes a closer look at Pep’s next five fixtures and whether there is potential for any side to wipe-out their current ‘0’ losses in the Premier League table.
The occurrence of Manchester City starting a Premier League season off well is not a revelation to anybody as the club are known in recent seasons for their valuable start to the season. Pep’s recent test was a visit from Arsenal to the Etihad, yet this fixture caused City no problems, as they breezed past their title rivals in a 3-1 victory. Manchester City have opened up an eight-point gap on their nearest title rivals, Manchester United and have now made the best ever start to a Premier League season.Embed from Getty Images
With the winter break fast approaching, City fans will have a slight apprehension towards this period as questions have loomed over the team during the busy winter period in the past two seasons. The winter break hits teams with a busy fixture schedule and Manchester City and Pep also must take European football into consideration. The club has only got past the round of 16 in one of their 6 Champions League appearances, and the necessity to succeed in Europe will be high on the wish list of City owner, Sheikh Mansour. With their commitments in Europe alongside domestic cup competitions and the Premier League, this season could follow another typical story for the blue half of Manchester.
This season however, many have stated something feels different. The club hold a vast amount of talented players in their ranks and the ability for Pep to rotate his players at his pleasure which is an option not open to many Premier League managers, is something which puts City in a tremendous position. The value of Ageuro and Jesus up top and the use of De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Silva, Gundogen just to name a few is something which puts City in an extremely satisfying position. Alongside this, the defence of City looks to be up to the test after some excessive summer spending in this department. Even when Pep drops players, there is always going to be somebody coming in of very much similar, if not more impressive, calibre. Alan Shearer stated on Match of the Day a few weeks ago that we are ‘seeing something special’ with this City team and they are taking the game to a new level.
Manchester City’s next 5 fixtures in the Premier League look like this:
Leicester City (away) – Manchester City have had a mixed record against Leicester in their last 5 fixtures. Last season both teams won the respective fixture at their home ground, with Leicester blitzing Manchester City away winning 4-2. A game which saw Leicester 4-0 ahead. Manchester city won the corresponding fixture 2-1. It is Leicester’s fast pace counter-attacking football which Manchester City have failed to respond to in recent seasons. I recall a hat trick from Jamie Vardy in the 4-2 victory, if Vardy is up for the game against City then they could have problems. Having said this, the spending Pep undertook last summer very much assured his defence and with the consistency of 2 wing backs alongside some solid centre halves, City’s differing style of football this season could threat Leicester. I don’t expect City to struggle massively in this and should come out with something.
Huddersfield Town (away) – Huddersfield having just come up this season from the Championship have made a very good name for themselves so far. However, seeing the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Spurs at the John Smiths Stadium already this season, I wouldn’t be too hopeful for Wagner’s side picking up anything from this fixture. They did take 3 points of Cities city rivals, United, however this performance from United was one of poor quality and a much better team would pick Huddersfield off and break their stubborn defence down, which I would expect City to do.
Southampton (home) – Southampton have struggled for form this season however do always produce a good defensive display. If Southampton’s defence is up for a dog fight in this fixture then City could find it hard to break them down. However, with the presence of Belgium play-maker, Kevin De Bruyne, it only takes one moment of pure magic and City would find their goal. It’s when City find this one break-through goal that they go rampant, as we have seen many times this season already. I’m not expecting an easy test here for Pep’s side but especially at the Etihad they should definitely pick up something, I would expect 3 points.
West Ham United (home) – Another side who have struggled for form this season however do have the players to provide a good quality performance. The arrival of David Moyes could be bad news for Pep as it could only take a run of winning a couple of games and West Ham could have their tails up. Andy Carroll could certainly cause problems for City and the trickery of Lanzini alongside the consistency of Hernandez, Antonio, Noble and Co could result in a testing fixture for City. However, once again, it’s a case of when at the Etihad, it’s difficult to see City losing. The pure class of Aguero and Jesus up top alongside the presence of David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sane always has the possibility of producing something and again I would expect City to get a result here.
United away – This unquestionably is the most difficult test for City in these 5 fixtures and if not this season so far. Although City have impressively seen of Liverpool and Chelsea while also successfully getting 3 points from Arsenal, this fixture is different. A Manchester derby could result in any possible story and in all fairness, it depends what Manchester United and Mourinho turn up on this day.
The strike force of City have not yet come up against a keeper as good as David De Gea and if he is on form, it could be difficult for City to get a result. Mourinho is a good tactician and will set up to frustrate City and get inside their heads. Apart from Wolverhampton in the Carabao Cup, City have registered a goal in every fixture this season, the question remains as to whether De Gea and Mourinho can stop them. If there is anyone this season that can stop it, I wouldn’t think there is anybody better than those two so it will certainly be an interesting fixture.
Written by Eamon Kitching.