Tuesday 15 October 2019

Comment: Manchester City are top of the table and still getting better. The entire Premier League should be worried

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Miguel Delaney

If the win away to another big-six side wasn’t worrying enough, there were then Pep Guardiola’s words after it. “We can improve,” the Manchester City manager stated, with the way he said it implying he means by a lot.

This, remember, is a team that has now gone away to Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and claimed seven points without conceding a single goal.

And sure, that Liverpool team might be similarly unbeaten and only behind City at the top of the table on goal difference – making this just the fifth time in history that two sides have won eight of their opening 10 games – but what is worrying for them in regards this title race is that issue of depth: how far City can still go as a team; how far they can go without dropping points.

That is also what might end up slightly deflating. If City don’t drop points in games like this, against a manager in Mauricio Pochettino who has proven himself as someone who can get the better of Guardiola, when do they drop points?

They have already made such a virtue of not just beating the “other 14”, but generally battering them, having scored 24 goals in seven games against them: an average of 3.43.

That they have added to that on the other side, securing clean sheets in big matches, only shows how well balanced they are.

And that’s the thing. They’ve done that while looking like Guardiola is right, while looking like they can improve, that they do have several levels to go up.

It does just feel they haven’t hit last season’s peaks of fluency and cohesion. They’re now unravelling sides through magnificent quality and muscle memory, rather than the truly elaborate moves they’re capable of. And it is only a matter of time until they really start offering the latter, especially now Kevin De Bruyne is back from injury.

That is just something else, to bear down on the league. City have got to this position without their best player, without that playmaker that really drives their intensity from deep.

If all of this seems a little harsh on a Liverpool side that themselves haven’t reached their best attacking level, it’s just that it’s difficult not to think that it will come down to that issue - of having players like De Bruyne still to come.

It feels like, no matter what Liverpool do, City will just win too many games; that Liverpool will have to eventually push themselves to the very limit while Guardiola’s side will always have that bit more to give.

Guardiola is certain they have more to give from this. This: a staggeringly strong position, of the type the English league has rarely seen.

And they "can improve". Those are the words that are more worrying than the numbers.

Independent News Service

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