15 wins on the spin in the Premier League. 52 goals scored in 17 games. Unbeaten so far this season with 16 wins from 17.
This record-breaking Manchester City side shows no signs of slowing down as they made English top-flight history on Wednesday.
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Pep Guardiola‘s side sealed 15 consecutive wins by beating Swansea City to do what no other team had done in English top-flight history. With an 11-point lead over second-place Manchester United, the focus is now switching to when City will win the league rather than if.
And rightly so. Pep believes complacency will not set in and says he takes great joy from others appreciating his team play. Swansea’s fans routinely applauded City on Wednesday such was their sterling play in attack and on the ball.
Will City get complacent?
“That is not going to happen. We are so demanding for our players. We can lose, we can drop points but complacency, never happened in the past, the present or the future,” Guardiola said. “Winning 15 games in a row gives us a lot of confidence. If people are happy watching us that is the best gift.”
The Spanish coach now holds the record for most consecutive league wins in the Spanish, German and English top flights. He is not someone who will allow his team to get complacent and seeing the embarrassment of riches he has, he can switch his starting lineup whenever he believes someone isn’t pulling their weight.
In Guardiola’s second season in England he has improved every single player who is still around from their third-place finish in 2016-17 and has tweaked his team to perfection.
David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne set the tempo of the team in central areas together, while Kyle Walker has been a revelation at right back and Ederson a rock in goal with City having the joint-best defensive record in the PL. Guardiola is proving all of his doubters wrong after many believed his soccer philosophy would not be possible to replicate in the hustle and bustle of the PL.
Yes, they’ve been pushed close in recent 2-1 wins late on against Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham, but Guardiola has pointed to their mental ability to drag themselves through and win games even when they’re not at their best.
Even when City aren’t quite at their best they’re still superior to every other team in the PL.
Their toughest challenge was supposed to be away at Man United last weekend in the Manchester derby but Pep’s boys cantered past their crosstown rivals and opened up what now looks like an unassailable lead atop the PL table.
This weekend they face Tottenham Hotspur at home and if Spurs are at their best and City’s levels drop, they could well be the first PL team to beat City this season. But, in all honesty, this City team looks unbeatable right now and unless something changes drastically they look set to match Arsenal’s “Invincibles” who went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated.
Saying that after 17 games of the season may be a bold statement but for anyone who has watched Man City this season, it isn’t.
Looking at their remaining schedule, City still have to travel to Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool in what look like their
TOP FOUR RACE WIDE-OPEN
With Man City running away with the title, it appears the top four race will be the main talking point this season.
Arsenal and Liverpool both dropped points in midweek, while Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea all picked up wins to solidify their top four ambitions.
There are just five points behind third-place Chelsea and seventh-place Arsenal, with Burnley’s incredible start to the season seeing them nestled into sixth in the table as things stand. Sean Dyche‘s men will surely drop off in the second half of the campaign and that would then leave a similar scenario to last season where the final two top four spots went down to the wire.
United currently sit seven points above fourth-place Tottenham and Jose Mourinho’s men are looking set for a top four finish, at least, even if their title hopes seem to be fading drastically.
When it comes to the rest, Arsenal and Liverpool look the most vulnerable when it comes to finishing in the top four, but both Chelsea and Tottenham haven’t been short of their issues this season.
Spurs went four games without a win in the PL but have won two-straight against Stoke and Brighton, with Mauricio Pochettino hoping a big win away at Man City could spark new life into Tottenham’s season. Chelsea keep plodding along and, like Spurs, they will have one eye on the UEFA Champions League last 16 with both clubs handing tough tests against Barcelona and Juventus respectively.
That could play into the hands of Liverpool (who face FC Porto in the UCL last 16) and Arsenal (who will play a weakened team in their Europa League knockout exploits). That said, two draws on the spin for Liverpool and Arsenal in the past few days have very damaging and Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp look agitated and frustrated as their title hopes are not only over but they now realize that they’ll likely be the outsiders in the top four race.
This top four race will go down to the wire this season, once again, and there seems to be plenty of slip ups left in the quartet of Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal.
‘TIS THE SEASON FOR RE-INVIGORATION
Leicester City is leading the pack of reinvigorated Premier League teams.
Since Claude Puel took charge of the Foxes in October they have only lost to Manchester City and they’ve won four-straight PL games to rise to eighth in the table and are five points off the top four.
Riyad Mahrez has led the charge up the table and some would argue this Leicester squad is deeper and more talented than the team which won the title in 2015-16. Yes, they’ve lose N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea but they have a younger core to this squad with Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire and Demarai Gray all impressing.
Puel will have enjoyed Leicester’s 4-1 win at his former club Southampton on Wednesday, as Saints’ decision to fire the Frenchman after just one season in charge continues to look like on of the biggest managerial blunders in recent years.
Many believed David Moyes‘ appointment at West Ham United would also be a big blunder but in recent weeks it has worked out pretty well for the Hammers.
They pushed Man City all the way, then beat Chelsea at the weekend and they drew with Arsenal on Wednesday and could’ve easily made it two big London derby wins on the spin. With a more favorable schedule coming up, it appears Moyes’ men could climb out of the bottom three very soon. The West Ham players have a clear idea of what they’re doing and now seem tougher to break down and dangerous on the break with Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio in attack. It appears Moyes has the defensive structure Slaven Bilic‘s approach lacked and it makes the Hammers look like a completely different team.
As well as the resurgence of Leicester and West Ham, Roy Hodgson is also turning around the ship at Crystal Palace.
The Eagles have scored late goals in each of their last two home games and beat Watford 2-1 on Tuesday thanks to two late goals when they trailed 1-0. Hodgson’s men have quietly gone six games unbeaten and have drawn four of those encounters. Palace have now given themselves a chance of survival after seven-straight defeats to start the season.
And the tide is also turning at Everton with three wins in their last four Premier League games since Sam Allardyce arrived and the Toffees looking to Wayne Rooney to deliver with the Englishman scoring five goals in his last four PL appearances. The latest was a gutsy 1-0 win away at Newcastle, a few days after they fought back to draw at Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. Big Sam is working his magic and Everton are now primed for a push for seventh place.
With just four points separating West Ham in 19th place and Southampton in 11th, there will be an almighty scrap to stay out of the bottom three this season. The relegation picture may look a lot less hectic when the festive season is over and the four aforementioned in-form teams will be hoping to make the most of the busy period ahead.
ANOTHER BUSY WEEKEND PROMISES PLENTY
There’s no doubting that Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur is the big game this weekend in the Premier League but more than the individual matchups this weekend it is all about setting the tone for the festive season on the horizon.
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In the next two weeks we have four PL matchdays coming up and this time of year can really make or break a season.
With two midweek slates of games already in the tank in recent weeks, plus seven PL teams also in European action, rotating squads will be key if teams are to navigate the festive period successfully.
Expected the unexpected. Oh, and Happy Holidays!
Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.