So, for another season at least, Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ tag won’t be taken by Manchester City. In losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Citizens relinquished top spot in the Premier League to Liverpool, who are themselves now the only unbeaten side in the English top flight.
All to play for
Just one point is nothing at this stage of the season, but with City and Liverpool going win-for-win, that may be all it takes in a two-horse race that is set to go down to the wire. Regardless of opinion, there can be no doubt that pundits and fans alike were blown away by Saturday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge, with a strangely sub-par City struggling to put up much of a fight against Maurizio Sarri’s side.
The superhuman performances put in against Southampton, West Ham and Manchester United in November seemed like a distant memory, but realistically, all is not lost. In fact, the very thought that a single defeat could trigger such shock demonstrates just how impressive City have been for the last 18 months.
It also shows why there really is no reason for the Citizens to start worrying. The mere fact that an away loss to a very strong Chelsea side was seen as an upset puts City in a league of their own. An elite team within the current elite group of six, City might lie in second right now, but few would argue against the fact that they remain a superior footballing side. So too are they expected to once again exceed 90 league points in current spread betting markets (learn more about sports spread betting here), with a tally of 90+ never failing to win the Premier League title.
A sign of the times
While nothing should be taken away from the phenomenal Liverpool, the fact remains that City had already scored 11 more goals than their Anfield counterparts by mid-December. Statistically, City have also been dominant in other key areas, with Liverpool undeniably riding their luck on more than one occasion this month. A freak goalkeeping error from Everton’s Jordan Pickford gave Liverpool an undeserved win in the Merseyside Derby, while the Reds’ following two away games saw unconvincing performances before the first Liverpool goal.
Perhaps most importantly, City have (Chelsea defeat excepted) really turned up in the big games this season. They’ve faced all three of the ‘big’ London clubs away from home and marched back to the Etihad Stadium with six points from the other two clashes. Regardless of resources, six points from away games with Chelsea, Spurs, and Arsenal is a great result no matter how you look at. Throw in the Derby Day demolition of United and the draw at Anfield and the case for a City title win only gets stronger.
Liverpool have also visited the three London giants, but took only five points from those games. Admittedly, they’ve been excellent, with Mohamed Salah looking back to his best, but question marks linger over squad depth. City’s bench routinely features several game-changing superstars, but Liverpool simply don’t have the same options when it comes to rotation. With the busy festive season approaching, and the demands of continued European participation in the New Year, it’s surely just a matter of time before Klopp’s boys suffer their first league defeat of 2018/19.
Ace in the pack
And let’s not forget perhaps the most important point of all, which is that City have managed to rack up 41 points without the services of their best player from 2017/18: Kevin De Bruyne. Had the Belgian midfield maestro been on the Stamford Bridge pitch, there’s certainly a chance the game could have gone differently, and when he returns, City are guaranteed to look a lot stronger – a scary prospect for both domestic and European rivals!
The seemingly unstoppable City steam train might have been slightly rattled by this defeat, but it will undoubtedly take a lot more than that to derail one of the finest squads ever assembled in the Premier League.