City Champions or Too Soon?

With one swing of his right boot, Kevin De Bruyne put a majestic stranglehold on the Premier League trophy. This season was billed as the title race for the ages. A four-team affair with three world class English sides only separated by slivers of silkworm excrement. It seems laughable now that Manchester United were under consideration as a contender early in the season, but when you pull off a shocking signing like the return of one soccer legend or football freak named Cristiano Ronaldo, that’s the kind of attention that you garner for yourself.

The Chelsea hype was warranted, coming off a Champions League Final victory, and an FA Cup Final appearance- Thomas Tuchel had the young upstart Royal Blue West Londoners looking like disrupters of City’s recent imperialistic dominance. Liverpool was whole again. They had their General at the back directing their Department of Defense again (or Field Marshal at the back directing their Ministry of Defense if you’re from across the pond). It seemed all but certain that Liverpool would return to their pre-pandemic title winning form and have their say in the outcome of this season’s title race. All prognostications aside, the contests have not played out that way.

The reality is, Manchester City is still the big bad boys on campus. I was caught up in the hysteria of watching my beloved Cityzens lose the Community Shield to Leicester and then drop points in the emotional opener at Tottenham’s magnificent stadium. City have not been able to find much success in that building since it has opened. It’s been a bane of our existence of sorts. Maybe we overreacted to the poor result in matchday 1? However, I am not City’s senior team manager and steady always goes the race for Pep Guardiola. He’s seen it all, he has done it all. While Guardiola is often an emotional mess in the technical box on the sideline during the match, between matches he is an absolute zen master of Tai Chi. Pep resisted urges to overpay for Harry Kane, no matter how desperate he was to sign a number 9. Not closing the deal on CR7 was embarrassing for sure, but it was nothing to panic over for Pep. Fifty-two goals later and Manchester City are the leading goal scorers in England and they have no striker.

Rumors of disgruntled star players wanting to leave the Etihad were prevalent. Not the least of which included big time first team player names like: Sterling, Silva, and Laporte. It seemed like maybe the team was being torn apart at the seams by it’s constant need to keep buying new players in an attempt to improve the team and spark cutthroat levels of competition. Guardiola’s demeanor and disposition stayed true through all of the transfer and playing time demands in his locker room. He was able to get his disgruntled star players back onside and simultaneously inspired them to raise their individual games a level, which caused the entire team to ascend as a byproduct. A rising tide floats all boats and winning cures all grievances.

Now we find ourselves 13 points clear of Chelsea on the same number of matches completed and 14 points clear of Liverpool (who have 2 games in hand so from a pessimistic perspective City are 8 points clear of them) with 16 matches left to play. One can’t blame the sky-blue clad fans at the Etihad for singing “Champions Ole” on Saturday…can we?

While Liverpool and Chelsea have been dropping points, Man City have now won 12 EPL matches in a row and 18 wins overall, which includes 2 wins over Chelsea, 2 wins over Arsenal, 2 wins over Leicester, a win over Brighton, a win over West Ham, and a draw with Liverpool that many felt should have been a win at Anfield. Not to mention that Liverpool’s irreplaceable best attacking players will be away from the African Cup of Nations, while City quite easily moved Raheem Sterling to the right wing, slotted their 100-million-pound man Grealish in on the left, had Foden play a false 9, and no one even noticed Riyad Mahrez’s absence. No offense to the Algerian talisman. It’s not officially over yet, but it is getting mighty close to clinching time and the Cityzens certainly have at least one hand firmly planted on the trophy that is already adorned with its sky-blue ribbons.

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