Pep Guardiola’s men have had a fantastic first half of the campaign, as they are on an all-conquering rampant run and here we analyze their season so far and pick out who has been the most stand out player for the Sky Blues and who has failed to stand up, along with the prediction for what could be waiting for them in the second-half of the term;
The Season So Far…
In all sense, this is Pep Guardiola’s team, a true image of the Catalan’s footballing ideologies, with the fast-paced, one-touch football at a high tempo, controlling the games and dominating oppositions at will. This is exactly what the City hierarchy had in mind when they brought in the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager and after an underwhelming debut campaign, Guardiola is delivering on the promise.
Having spent in the upwards of £200 million in the summer, the pressure was on the Catalan to translate that into results and boy has he done that! The Citizens have been on an absolute juggernaut this term in the Premier League, tearing apart defences for fun and have established themselves as the firm favourites to clinch the Premier League crown come May.
Every team that City have come against have tried all methods to stop them and apart from Everton, who managed to hold out for a draw in the early season, nobody has been able to get a point from them. An unprecedented 17-game winning run in the league sees them sit thirteen points ahead of closest challengers Manchester United, while they qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with little fuss.
City have gotten the better of their closest rivals Manchester United and Chelsea away from home this term and thrashed the rest of the big six – Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad. The 7-2 mauling of Stoke City remains another big highlight of the ongoing campaign for the Citizens.
The Guardiola revolution has taken full effect at the Etihad and it can be seen clearly in the performances of several stars who have undergone drastic improvement in the past half a year – namely John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Raheem Sterling. The trio has been in devastating form for the Sky Blues this term, along with the likes of Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
Sergio Aguero may have had his differences with the manager, but he continues to break records and recently went on to become the leading goal-scorer in the history of the club, beating the tally of Eric Brooks that had stood for ages. Summer signing Kyle Walker created a lot of furor in the summer, given the huge amount City spent on him, but has repaid most of that already with some scintillating displays at right-back. And fellow summer addition Ederson has been a revelation between the sticks as well.
The soon to be 32-year old, Silva, has demonstrated his class once again and is playing some of the finest football of his entire career this season and has led the charge for City from the front. But it is Kevin De Bruyne that has left the fans stunned with the transformation that he has undergone this term. Everyone knew that the Belgian was a special player, but his displays this term have been at a whole new level.
The ease with which he has carved out defences with his vision and passing – De Bruyne leads the charts for most assists (8), most chances created (55) in the Premier League this season, add to that the number of crucial moments he has produced this term, like the winner against Chelsea, the goals against Arsenal and Tottenham, make him City’s and the Premier League’s most outstanding player of the season, by some distance.
It is very hard to pick out a player that has been bad for City this term, but if fingers needed to be point at a player, that would be captain Vincent Kompany. The Belgian international has once again failed to keep himself fit on a consistent basis and has spent a lot of time on the sidelines once again. One might call him unlucky, but Guardiola too has been growing frustrated with his captain and has openly stated that he might bring in a new face in the center-half department.
“Vincent is in this situation, always is injured,” Guardiola was quoted as saying. “He fights a lot to be ready, but sometimes he’s not able to be consistently fit and we have just three central defenders for four competitions.”
January Transfer Plans
As indicated above, Guardiola will be looking to strengthen his options at centre-back given Kompany’s injury record coupled with the facts that John Stones is also out due to an injury and Eliaquim Mangala is hardly a reliable option. There have been reports of a move for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk in the winter window, and if that move comes to fruition, this City team will only get stronger and scarier.
Season Grade: A+
Guardiola’s City team have been blasting records so far this season, and it would be fair to say that more records will keep tumbling as they make their way towards clinching the Premier League title. In their current form, they look unstoppable and while Pep might have laughed off the possibility of winning a quartet of trophies, one wouldn’t put it past this City side to go on to achieve that feat.