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Manchester City – 2nd – Pld: 29 Won: 16 Drawn: 5 Lost: 8 Pts: 57
It is perhaps the most drawn-out title loss in living memory, but for Manchester City, their grip on the Premier League is drawing to a close. Maybe it is not as dramatic as what it have been had the season finished in May. There is though a resignation that the title will go to Liverpool with the Premier League’s resumption now all but set.
Manchester City have played catch-up with Liverpool for as long as they can probably remember. Ilkay Gundogan admitted City were left behind as the reds stormed to the top of the table. It left Pep Guardiola’s side at a loss. The catastrophe was not meant to happen to the current champions, but despite Liverpool’s domination, City had not matched the standard of previous seasons.
Seven defeats for City this season; it is not champion-winning form, no matter how far ahead Liverpool are in the table. Guardiola has never lost seven league games in a season until now; the 2-0 defeat to their rival, Manchester United, was their last piece of Premier League action. One could argue the wheels have come off, and with the club now preparing to fight for their inclusion in next season’s UEFA Champions League, it is a difficult period for the club.
City have ten games left to salvage their season. Liverpool requires two victories to secure their first Premier League title. If Jurgen Klopp’s side slips up, they could win the title against City at the Etihad Stadium on July 2. Man City can only look below them. Leicester City are four points behind them and have played a game more. Chelsea are nine points behind the Citizens.
Manchester City’s game in hand is against Arsenal at home on June 17. Chelsea and Liverpool are still to come. Any defeat in those three matches could cause an issue, but City’s run-in after those games looks like one of the easiest. Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford follow. Those clubs may be involved in a relegation fight, but their form has been weak as of late, and City should be able to capitalise.
Second place looks secured, and with the team in good health, Guardiola’s focus will be to finish the season strong. Aymeric Laporte is fit again, which will delight the Spaniard. Leroy Sane should finish the season now after recovering from his knee injury – which had initially ruled him out of season and the European Championships respectfully.
This season has been a severe test for Guardiola. City have not matched Liverpool, and have suffered significant defeats during this season. Anything less than ten good performances will place more pressure on the club. The break may have eased the criticism on the team, but any further issue could see this season’s woes come back to haunt them.