Manchester City are proving to be very much beatable this season in both the Champions League and Premier League, whereas ‘title rivals’ Chelsea are looking likely to go unbeaten in the league, or as likely as anything can be at this stage.
Meanwhile City have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions, a dismal record by anyone’s standards. The current champions have lost twice in the league during the opening eleven fixtures, and despite playing Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, it’s Stoke City and West Ham United who have managed to topple the champs.
Things are not going well for Man City in Europe either – in fact they’ve yet to win a single game in out of four. When initially looking at their admittedly tough group, CSKA Moscow would have been the top pick for winning 6 points from.
After all not many get anything off Bayern Munich at the moment, and Roma are no slouches either. Yet CSKA are the only team that City have played twice, and after throwing away at 2-0 lead in an empty stadium in Moscow, Man City lost to the Russian side at home.
It’s no fluke that City have lost in the league to two lesser sides, as with a little bit of fortune and the right game plan, City are relatively easy to beat.
The reason that they are beatable is that they play the same every week. Manuel Pellegrini relies on the quality of his players as individuals to pull him through – and they often will, especially with Sergio Aguero on the pitch.
Tactically astute managers will be very much aware that you’re not going to come up against any surprises when you play City, and once realised by a manager who is willing to change their style to suit their opponent, the champions can be overthrown. Of course it’s not just a battle of the managers, and if City’s forwards are on form, there’s not much a team with less quality can do.
Chelsea are already looking certainties for the title despite the season only being 11 game-week’s old. Bookmaker Paddy Power has already cheekily payed out on Mourinho’s men winning the league.
The Blues have a manger in charge who is willing to grind out results if necessary, and change his tactics to suit the opposition. Parking the bus is nothing to be ashamed of when it works, as it did away to Liverpool at the end of last season.
There’s no doubting that Man City’s squad is one of the best if not the best in the Premier League right at this moment. Their strength in depth is phenomenal – on their bench for their last fixture against QPR was Jovetic, Dzeko, Zabaleta, Lampard and Milner. That bench would have been even stronger if it wasn’t for the absence of Kompany, Kolarov and David Silva.
Yet compare that to the side who are a place and four points ahead of City, Southampton, who had both Jack Cork and Harrison Reed come off the bench in their win last time out. Not quite the same frightening names, but The Saints are harder to beat than the Champions.
Perhaps it’s purely a case of being underrated and underestimated each week despite their league position. Everyone tries their hardest against the big teams, and that’s why it can be harder for the top teams. It’s a case of it being big game for the little teams, and a little game for the big teams, which can make all the difference for the so-called ‘lesser’ side.
We mustn’t forget that Manchester City are the current Premier League champions, and that they more or less have the same squad and manager as in that victorious campaign. However, they now are up against a team that are playing hard to beat as a collective whilst City remain hoping for moments of magic from genius players.
If enough of those moments come then they may catch Chelsea before the end of the season, but it’s already Chelsea’s to lose and you wouldn’t want anyone else in charge other than Mourinho in that situation.