It’s an odd thing to say that a club who top the table by 11 points and who have the best goalscoring record and the joint best defensive record should need to make improvements: if the first half of the season is anything to go by, even taking away some of Manchester City’s firepower should still see them win the title comfortably at this point.
Yet there are deficiencies in this side.
Benjamin Mendy is the club’s only recognised senior left-back and is currently injured. Captain Vincent Kompany’s fitness cannot be relied upon. And to top all that, John Stones’ injury has shown City just how vulnerable they can be in terms of defensive personnel – they are now in the barely fathomable position of being both champions-elect well before Christmas and sweating on the fitness of Eliaquim Mangala.
2018 could well be the year that Manchester City fans remember forever. On the horizon very soon we will see the return of the Champions League, the final stages of the EFL Cup, the start of the FA Cup and the finale of the Premier League. City will be fighting in all of those competitions, and should they be successful, there could be a Community Shields, and a Super Cup to come later on in 2018, mirroring Pep Guardiola’s success with Barcelona in 2009.
It’s too early to be talking in seriousness about winning even one competition let alone all of them. There’s a long way to go just yet. But what we can say is that if City probably won’t be able to achieve the feat they’re capable of if they don’t strengthen in the defence in January. They need to make sure that they have cover for Stones and Nicolas Otamendi which surpasses the quality of Mangala.
It’s strange to say this, too, but they may also want to strengthen in attacking areas in 2018, too. Whilst Gabriel Jesus brings more to this Manchester City side than just goals – his work rate is one of the reasons he has displaced Sergio Aguero at times this season – he also hasn’t scored since mid-November, and has provided only one assist in all competitions since then.
Aguero, too, hasn’t been on the very top of his game of late, scoring two in his last five. That’s hardly the worst run of form a striker can see, but it’s not quite up to his sparkling best, nor is it a sensational return in a team scoring so many goals. Neither of his last two goals have been particularly big ones either – a penalty against Shakhtar Donetsk when City were already losing, and one against Swansea to seal the fourth goal late on.
Alexis Sanchez is a player who has been mooted as a potential signing for City of late and that might be a boost going into the next phase of the season.
Whilst City don’t need too much extra this season, they do need something. And we’re also talking about the highest level a football team can attain, here. City are good enough to win the league and they may even be good enough to win multiple competitions with the squad they have.
But you get the feeling that they could go on and win it all with a few additions, because it looks like the only thing stopping them at the moment is injuries and suspensions, whilst they are currently only one bad day away from a fully-blown defensive personnel crisis.