The Premier League title race is already over in accordance with some, with even Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp discovering it troublesome to see anybody stopping Manchester Metropolis.
No group has ever held such a commanding lead at this stage of a Premier League season, with closest rivals Manchester United and Tottenham already eight factors behind after simply 11 matches.
However Metropolis boss Pep Guardiola actually is not anticipating to win the title with none difficulties and is properly conscious that title races typically have a shock twist.
“Did you see a champion in January? Me neither,” he stated after the Three-2 win at West Brom in reply to options they cannot be stopped.
Metropolis are in sensible kind — taking 31 factors from their first 33 video games and profitable their final 9 within the Premier League. What is maybe extra stunning is that it is a similar document to that made by Roberto Mancini’s Metropolis in 2011-12. Additionally they received the 12th sport that season to make it 34 factors from 36 however they had been nonetheless to wish that harm time winner from Sergio Aguero on the ultimate day of the season six months later to say their first ever Premier League title. The way wherein they did it ought to present a reminder to some within the squad that the race has an extended strategy to run.
After 11 video games, Metropolis had been 5 factors away from United and had scored 39 objectives — yet one more than this season, though their purpose distinction of +29 is 2 objectives worse than this time. Amongst their 10 victories was a spectacular 5-1 win over Spurs at White Hart Lane and the unbelievable 6-1 derby win at Outdated Trafford. Their 13th sport was a 1-1 draw away to Liverpool that means they remained unbeaten after taking part in three of their hardest away fixtures.
Nonetheless, Metropolis’s kind took a nosedive round Christmas. In contrast to this season when Guardiola’s facet have already certified for the Champions League spherical of 16 with 4 straight wins, Mancini’s males missed out on the knockout phases regardless of amassing 10 factors and it impacted on the spirit within the squad. The largest fallout got here after the sport away to Bayern Munich when Carlos Tevez had refused to return on as an alternative after which went dwelling to Argentina for 5 months — not taking part in once more within the Premier League once more till halfway by means of March.
Mario Balotelli wasn’t rather more dependable. He was given a four-match ban for stamping on Tottenham’s Scott Parker in January and in addition noticed purple within the 1-Zero defeat to Arsenal in April.
By then Metropolis trailed United by eight factors on the prime of the desk after taking a measly 33 factors from 18 video games. A 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in December was not disastrous however the way in which they misplaced 1-Zero to Sunderland on New 12 months’s Day rocked their confidence. It was a sport they dominated on the Stadium of Mild however they had been surprised by Ji Dong-Received’s winner in harm time.
They misplaced once more in January, at Everton, earlier than a disastrous run of 5 video games in March and April that noticed them take simply 4 factors from video games towards Swansea, Chelsea, Stoke, Sunderland and Arsenal.
Then it was Mancini’s time to say the title race was all-but completed. “It isn’t mathematically [over], however it’s clear now that it is very troublesome,” the Italian stated after the defeat on the Emirates. Solely a mix of six straight wins to spherical off the season and United’s shock implosion allowed Metropolis to win the title is such dramatic style.
Of that squad, solely David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure are nonetheless on the Etihad however they are going to bear in mind the way in which their confidence and kind drained away.
Guardiola has already warned that accidents and suspensions may have an effect on his facet and says he must understand how his group will react after they endure their first defeat this season. Final time period, Metropolis received their first 10 matches however received simply two of their subsequent 9 following their first slip-up as their home and European challenges pale.
It has been an exhilarating begin to the marketing campaign, however there are examples from Metropolis’s latest historical past to counsel there’s nonetheless an extended strategy to go on this title race.
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester Metropolis correspondent. Observe him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.