The closeness of the title race has always given the Premier League the edge over the other leagues around Europe. So often it comes down to the last few weeks of the season and in the famous instance of Man City’s title-winning campaign during the 2011/2012 season, the last kick of the season as Aguero brought down the curtain on the 360 game league with a goal that secured the Citizens the title on goal difference.
The Sky Blues will begin February with at least a 12-point lead over second-placed Manchester United, which is almost unheard of at this time of the season. The gulf in class between Man City and the rest of the league is as big as it has ever been. It’s not just the points disparity that has daylight between Guardiola’s men and the other teams but also the football they are playing.
Every time City goes forward they look like scoring with the magnificent Kevin de Bruyne dispensing perfectly weighted through-balls to the feet of some of the best strikers on the planet. The style football they are putting on display is up there with the very best ever seen in England over the course of time. Realistically, the only team capable of catching the trailblazing City this season are their neighbours.
Jose Mourinho’s troops are the closest chasers at 12 points back with 14 games to go. A tall ask to rein in any team 12 points ahead with a fraction less than a quarter of the season to go but a whole new different proposition to haul in a team playing the way Manchester City are.
Until Mourinho brings in the type of player with the class of a de Bruyne it could be a long time before the red half of Manchester find themselves ahead of their ‘noisy neighbours’. Mourinho has cast his gaze over Europe for a talismanic midfielder, reports are Bryan Cristante on loan at Atalanta has caught the eye of the Manchester United manager.
With Atalanta at 2500/1 to win the league in Serie A betting this year, it’s easy to see why the 22-year-old midfielder has issued a “come and get me” plea to Mourinho by stating he wants a Premier League switch. Even if Mourinho were to land the young Italian starlet he would take some time to adapt to the tempo of England’s top flight. In fairness, there are not a whole lot of solutions available to Mourinho in the quest to match City’s current dominance.
Only a catastrophic collapse during the second half of the season would see City falter in a way that would see Manchester United or any other team surpass them. The more likely outcome this season would be City breaking the record for the biggest winning margin in a Premier League race.
Guardiola’s charges would have to beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team of 1999/2000 that finished on 91 points, 18 points ahead of Arsenal in second place on 73. The conventional wisdom is that City will keep pulling away instead of being pulled back into the pursuing pack.