Five games in, and it’s neck and neck at the top of the Premier League with the two Manchester clubs running away from the rest. Will the title be heading back to the North West this season?
When Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola landed in Manchester last season, a lot of people expected the Premier League title to return to the city. Manchester City appointed Pep Guardiola as their manager and their cross town rivals, Manchester United responded by bringing Jose Mourinho on board. With the tumultuous history between these two great managers from their time in Spain, fireworks were expected.
It did not however pan out that way as both Manchester giants failed to win the title. City finished third while United ended the season in sixth. The red half of Manchester still managed to win two trophies, the League Cup and the UEFA Europa League.
Both clubs spent heavily during the summer and the move seems to have paid off. United and City are setting the pace this season and there is literally nothing to separate the two.
After 5 games of the current season, this is what the Premier League table looks like:
As the table illustrates, both United and City have absolutely identical records after the first five games, with City being at the top only because of the alphabetical order. Yes, these are early days but the two Manchester giants really seem to be in the groove this season and are winning games quite comfortably.
So, the question now is – Is a Manchester title race taking place in the Premier League this season?
Will this be the season that will instigate Jose vs Pep Part 2, but this time in England?
Let’s take a look at the campaigns so far.
|Brighton and Hove Albion (A)||2-0||12th August, 2017|
|Everton (H)||1-1||21st August, 2017|
|Bournemouth (A)||2-1||26th August, 2017|
|Liverpool (H)||5-0||9th September, 2017|
|Watford (A)||6-0||16th September, 2017|
|West Ham United (H)||4-0||13th August, 2017|
|Swansea (A)||4-0||19th August, 2017|
|Leicester City (H)||2-0||26th August, 2017|
|Stoke City (A)||2-2||9th September, 2017|
|Everton (H)||4-0||17th September, 2017|
The tables show the kind of form the two sides are in. The only difference is that City drew their game at home while United were away at Stoke for their solitary blip.
Pep Guardiola spent a lot of money in the pre-season to get the players he wanted. City looked like a top heavy team last term and Pep has fixed the issue by signing Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy. What the two of them are doing is that they are bombing up the pitch to give width that allows David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to come inside and work their magic. This is Pep’s template of playing football.
Another major difference has been the form of their talisman Sergio Aguero. There were strong rumors that Pep would trade him because he did not fit in the kind of football Pep wanted to play. But Aguero has come back from the periphery and leads the scoring charts with five goals to his name.
On the other hand, the biggest problem for United last season was not scoring enough goals which resulted in way too many draws for their liking. Jose went out and got Romelu Lukaku to sort that issue out. He has hit the ground running and sits at the top of the goal scoring charts with Aguero with five strikes. On top of that, the goal scoring burden is being shared by other players too, which did not happen last term.
The biggest masterstroke however might turn out to be the signing of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea. The Serb has been impressive so far. He offers United the aggression and vision that they were missing in the middle of the park last season. More importantly, him being in the middle frees up Paul Pogba to go and do some serious damage up top. This United team is a team of monsters, with a very strong spine. This is how Jose’s teams have been over the years and it is a template that has served him well too.
The Irresistible Force vs. the Immovable Object
City is arguably playing the better football of the two. Manchester United, on the other hand, really do seem more sturdy and tough to beat. It really is shaping up to be a battle between the Irresistible Force vs the Immovable Object. Both sides have some tough games coming up and that will give us an idea as to where they stand right now.
This is a battle between two contrasting styles. Before last season, Pep had won the league title every season as a manager barring one campaign. The man to deny him that year in Spain was none other than Jose Mourinho.
A Manchester title race on the cards?
If these first five matches are any indication, then it certainly looks like it will be one of the two Manchester clubs. On paper, they have the two strongest squads in the league with a lot of options to pick from. Their biggest challenge will come from Chelsea. After their defeat in the opening game, they are unbeaten since.
Chelsea did not have a very good transfer window either as they did not strengthen their squad enough to mount a serious challenge on all fronts. The general consensus seems to be that the lack of squad depth might be their undoing this term now that they have Champions League football to contend with as well. Antonio Conte is a fantastic manager but the fact he will not be able to rotate his squad during the season might be a handicap too big to overcome for Chelsea in the end.
Tottenham, who finished second last year have been inconsistent. Liverpool’s Achilles heel, their defense, has come back to haunt them already this season on more occasions than one.
The league is always a marathon. You need a big squad and different options to get through it and the two Manchester clubs have that in abundance.
The title is theirs to win, however Jose and Pep will not have many excuses if they fail to do so in May.
It’s Game On in Manchester!
My name is Kim Lee and I’m a journalist who frequently contributes to a variety of websites. My experience includes writings on education programs and live entertainment events such as music concerts and Sport events. Now a days I am doing research for selection of ‘Top 50 Sports blogs’ for ScoreBig.com on the basis of data available on different websites.