If you offered most Premier League fans Manchester City’s 28 points, 37 goals and third placed league position after 13 games of a season, they would bite your arm off.
But at Manchester City, things are different.
Already finding themselves nine points behind leaders Liverpool, having conceded a worrying 14 goals and dropping points to teams in 10th and 18th, City are in what can be considered, based on the standards they have set in the last two years under Pep Guardiola, a crisis.
Injuries have plagued the campaign up to this point, with no less than nine players missing at least on one matchday due to lack of fitness.
Losses have been felt most keenly in the form of centre-back Aymeric Laporte and winger Leroy Sané, both of whom are expected to return to action in January but having already been side-lined for what will most likely prove to be crucial moments in the season.
All of this has led many to suggest that City could already be out of a title race, with the Premier League trophy destined to end up at Anfield – but is such an unpredictable championship really so easy to write off with six months still to go?
Most of City’s established attacking stars have been firing on all cylinders so far, desperate to cover the cracks of the aforementioned leaky defence.
Sergio Agüero has scored nine and set up two, Raheem Sterling has scored nine and set up one and Kevin de Bruyne has scored three and set up a league-high nine; no surprises there.
The worry lies in the form of Bernardo Silva.
On the face of it, the Portuguese’s five goals and two assists in eight league starts is a solid return – but consider the fact that three of those goals came in the 8-0 rout of Watford, and that fans have been growing increasingly frustrated at the 25-year-old’s ineffective showings on the wing.
With that in mind it makes it difficult to understand Pep’s reluctance to use October Player of the Month Riyad Mahrez.
The defence being almost as fractious as it was in the dark days of 2016/17, when the man guarding the net was a hapless Claudio Bravo conceding near enough every shot on target.
However, a shining light of the campaign thus far has been the speed with which record signing Rodri has taken to life in the Premier League.
Bought with Fernandinho’s poor 34-year-old legs in mind, Rodri has established himself as a defensive powerhouse, successfully tackling or intercepting the ball 3.7 times every 90 minutes on average.
The Spaniard’s on the ball work has impressed too, with a 92% passing accuracy coupled with a goal and an assist proving he can contribute going forward too. Considering the carnage that has gone on around him, Rodri has handled himself admirably in his first few months in sky blue.
Now, enough talk of the recent past; let’s discuss what is to come for the Citizens. It’s a packed December schedule for City, featuring tough fixtures such as Arsenal away, Leicester at home and a trip to Wolves.
Oh, and the Manchester Derby.
Providing they come through this stretch unscathed, it’s feasible to think that City will be in a relatively strong position going into the New Year; Champions League knockout football is already secured, and despite what some corners of the media will have you believe, this Premier League campaign is far from over.
It’s bound to be a fascinating 2020 for Manchester City.
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