Kings of the EPL

Manchester City

Manchester City are back atop the English Premier League once again and it feels so good! In an environment where everyone is waiting to interpret a momentary drop in form as a prelude to the end of the Cityzen dynasty led by King Guardiola, the Sky Blues continue to keep up their exhausting level of high class and quality. City lost the Community Shield. City dropped points in the opener against an emotional Tottenham Hotspur side. City tried and failed to acquire Harry Kane. Then City tried and got embarrassingly undercut for the services of Cristiano Ronaldo as their noisy neighbors at Old Trafford swooped in and stole away the splashy signing. City was knocked out of the EFL Carabao Cup without the winner’s medals for the first time in over five years in a tough penalty shootout with the rising West Ham side.

Chelsea was in top form coming off their Champions League title. Liverpool got their roster that was torn to tatters last season by injuries stitched back together. Virgil is once again lurking at the back while Salah is doing things that are reminiscent of Aguero in his prime as part of a ruthless vanguard. Raheem Sterling was not in top form and openly talking about making a move to Barcelona instead of signing an extension to stay in Manchester. Bernardo Silva was unhappy and reports were that he would end up in Milan for below his market value before the transfer window closed. Kevin De Bruyne was still nursing his injuries from the European Championships and the 100 million pound signing Jack Grealish was still adjusting to life at the Etihad and yet to make a major impact. The red flags were all around more than they were on social media posts and the pundits were ready to write City off from winning any trophies at the end of this campaign.

The popular odds on favorites to win the EPL according to the experts was Chelsea. The next favorite pick were the Reds in Merseyside. Suddenly, it had become a courageously brave and unpopular prognostication to pick the Cityzens to win the title. However, through it all Pep and the lads didn’t listen to the noise and stayed the course through a very difficult schedule to start the topflight campaign. City was challenged with many away matches against the top teams in England. They navigated it brilliantly taking all 3 points at King Power Stadium, besting the London Blues at Stamford Bridge in a knock down drag out battle, and getting an epic draw in a thrilling match at Anfield that many feel was a bit of an unjust result since Liverpool should have been playing most of the 2nd half with 10 men. Manchester City stayed the course even when they dropped points to Southampton, lost to PSG 2-0 in a group stage match where they had all of the better scoring opportunities, and spent the majority of September – November chasing Liverpool and looking up at Chelsea leading the table through early December.

City finally went top of the league after their second game in December on the 4th with a 3-1 victory over Watford and Chelsea was dropped by a surprising 3rd goal by the Hammers at the end of their match with West Ham. This top spot lead was further extended with Chelsea dropping points in two back-to-back draws with Everton and Wolves last week and into the weekend. Liverpool dropped points to Tottenham in a wild match on Sunday. So here we are with the Cityzens as kings of the EPL once again. Raheem Sterling has found his form again and is playing big minutes and scoring goals. Bernardo Silva has been City’s best attacking player this season and his smile and fire for Manchester has definitely returned. Jack Grealish is learning how to balance his predilections to one man attack on the wing and when to move the ball to assimilate to City’s fluid tiki taka ball possession dominant passing style.

All of these red flags have morphed into green flags. City has won 8 matches on the spin and are the frontrunners to win the Premier League again as they now sit 3 points clear of Liverpool and 6 points clear of Chelsea. The 12 goals that they have scored this past week with no center forward has erased the scoring differential lead that Chelsea and Liverpool had and have also put the entire league on notice. City is not going to give up their title without a fight. They are not going to give up an inch for any of the remaining points to be had down to the tiebreakers in goal difference and goals scored. Man City are scoring goals with no striker while also playing stingy defense at the back and breaking Liverpool’s long standing record of the most top flight wins in a calendar year.

This surely will attract a world class striker like Erling Haaland to come to City as the long term replacement for the now medically retired City legend Sergio Kun Aguero. If Haaland comes to Manchester to play for the Sky Blues- look out! City could be revving up to extend their dynastic reign as king of the EPL for many more years to come. Let’s see if they can finish the job off this season first. Up next, Leicester City on Boxing Day. You know what that means? Bad news for the Foxes!

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