Manchester City are not the underdogs in the title race; instead, Pep Guardiola could invoke the beast to go on a late marching run.
Manchester City are not in the business of backing down from a challenge as they gear up for a late title run-in. Pep Guardiola knows what it takes mentally to sustain a late run of games and win it. That attribute of his team is their biggest weapon in these next twelve games.
Apart from Manchester United, no other team has won three titles on the trot. Manchester City have four in the last five years, with Liverpool breaking the monopoly in the 2019/20 season. Guardiola’s side could count themselves unlucky this time as Arsenal have fallen in their way for an unprecedented third on the bounce.
🗣️ "Champions League or Premier League?" 🧐
Danny Mills' chooses which trophy Pep Guardiola will want the most 🏆 pic.twitter.com/9aEKObNelU
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 9, 2023
Arsenal have flaws, but they have shown plenty of character and grit for a title challenger. Like Manchester City, the Gunners have twelve games to go. And both teams have an equally difficult run until the end of May. What the north Londoners have done differently is build momentum whenever they fell down this season.
Manchester City have been unable to do that, as they have had breaks whenever they tried to assemble a winning streak. While we can look at their problems a bit later, one thing Arsenal and Manchester City have done is set the table for two at the top. The duo should be the ones contesting the chase.
Manchester United teetered on the periphery as a probable runner before their defeat to Liverpool had far-reaching ramifications. Counting them out for now, Manchester City must evoke a beast within to get their noses in front of Arsenal in this late, exciting title run-in.
Manchester City remains the favourite
One thing that stood out when we analysed Arsenal’s chances in the title chase was their experience or lack thereof. Only Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have the experience of winning the league in this era. At the same time, Jorginho comes as an outsider who has won the Champions League and Euros before.
It's a bit chilly ❄️ pic.twitter.com/wkDzVRtAqb
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 9, 2023
That said, Arsenal are trotting about with the division’s youngest squad, with players who are hungry but lacking in experience. Manchester City, on the other hand, are not at the same level as the Gunners; they are miles ahead.
Are there any players in the current squad besides former Manuel Akankji, Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez who have not won the Premier League at Manchester City? Alvarez has already lifted the biggest prize in football, which will improve his appetite for two manor honours in a single season.
The point is Manchester City have winners in their squad who have the experience of winning at least three titles. This squad is largely unchanged from the last many years, with Guardiola only preferring to make minor tweaks to his side each summer.
Much like every pundit on the planet had predicted before the season, Manchester City are the current favourites to lift the title. They might be five points behind Arsenal, but they have the mentality and experience to cover that. Manchester City must evoke their hunter’s instinct and go on a wild run from here on.
Are Manchester City inconsistent this season?
When Manchester City decided to sell Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, no one envisaged the Gunners using those players and challenging for the title. Call it ignorance or arrogance, Guardiola made a grave mistake by letting two promising stars join Mikel Arteta’s side.
When Arsenal have started a game with Zinchenko, Partey and Jesus they have only won.
0 draws, 0 losses. pic.twitter.com/UjnBaN84Ll
— FIN🌶️ (@bs7prop) March 9, 2023
Considering how those two have played this season, it has called for many to observe that Manchester City have suddenly missed their quality. There have been games where Zinchenko’s relentless usage of the ball and Jesus’s bite in the final third could have paid dividends.
Pep Guardiola will not give thought to those observations; rather, he would look for ways to improve his team. While he has largely shown relentlessness in winning the league four out of the last five years, there are always patterns left behind.
Manchester City have put together a run of at least five consecutive wins in each of their last four seasons. Guardiola had stitched together a winning streak of 18 games in the 2017/18 season and 14 in the next. The only season they did not put together a double-digit streak was the 2019/20 season, which Liverpool won.
In the last two seasons, they have put together a streak of 13 and 12 games, respectively, showing what they need to win a title. Those patterns have changed drastically this season, as they have been unable to stitch a run beyond four games.
They have only managed a four-game run twice this season. Meanwhile, Arsenal are on the verge of their fourth five-game streak if they beat Fulham at the weekend. Some results for Manchester City have been a bit unprecedented, and Guardiola would want absolute consistency if they are to win the league in May.
Manchester City’s title run in and possible roadblocks
One of the major roadblocks for Manchester City are Arsenal. With Pep Guardiola’s men already defeating the Gunners at the Emirates, they will remain fairly confident of repeating the feat at the Etihad. It has been ages since the north London side snatched a victory against the Cityzens, and the manager will hope for the trend to continue.
Both sides in the title race play the in-form Liverpool in the next five fixtures 👀
Which clubs could take points off Arsenal and Manchester City? 🤔#OptusSport #PL pic.twitter.com/J5gmVluAOo
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) March 7, 2023
As we mentioned during the analysis of Arsenal’s title run-in, Liverpool are the common factor for both sides. Manchester City will host Liverpool in April, which could greatly impact the Premier League title race.
The reigning champions have a tough run in the next three games. They face relegation-threatened West Ham United, Liverpool and second-to-bottom Southampton. On paper, only the Merseysiders pose a threat. But those in danger of dropping out always tend to take their game to the next level.
Yet, one could expect Manchester City to take at least three points out of the nine, while they will remain favourites to beat Liverpool at the Etihad. Arsenal face the Merseysiders at Anfield, the game Guardiola will hope for Arteta’s men to drop points.
The away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion and the home clashes with Arsenal and Chelsea are their biggest threats. Going by current form, Brentford may have the final say in the title race if they continue their stellar run, as they host Manchester City on the season’s final day.
Overall, if one has to compare Arsenal and Manchester City’s title run-in, Guardiola’s men have the easier fixtures of the lot. That aside, their experience makes them clear favourites to win the title. But the Gunners will not back out just yet.
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