The Etihad Stadium belonging to Manchester City, (c) Soccrates Images.

Will Manchester City beat rivals to the Premier League this year?

Manchester City sit top of the Premier League, thanks to a solid start to the New Year and defensive resilience in recent weeks.

Manchester City top the Premier League standings with 44 points in 20 matches so far and have a game in hand over their competitors. Pep Guardiola’s men have knit up a run of eight successive wins in the top-flight to turn the tide after a slow start to the campaign. In truth, the Citizens have everything possible to beat every possible suitor the premiership and may have opened up an unassailable lead already at this point in time.

One of the biggest and most distinct assets at Guardiola’s disposal is the availability of a vast squad. The manager has at least two world-class players in every position on the pitch, which has given him room for enough rotation. Even in the absence of a striker, the former Barcelona coach has used players like Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling centrally to good avail.

The Citizens were also able to spend lavishly despite the coronavirus, thanks to funding out of the Middle East. They eventually went on to sign the likes of Nathan Ake, Ferran Torres and Ruben Dias during the summer. The Iberian duo has been especially terrific since signing on, performing superbly and eventually cementing their roles as regulars in the first-team.

Despite being affected by injuries, similar to most competitors, it is fair to say that the Sky Blues have faced the least brunt of the same due to their spending prowess which has seen them host a prodigious selection of players, in terms of number as well as quality. With that said, injuries and ongoing concern in opponent dugouts have been kind enough to City too.

Liverpool have been unfortunate to say the least, in terms of injury. Jurgen Klopp has now lost all three of his central defenders to long-term injuries. Of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, it is only foreseeable for the Dutchman to return this season- that too not before May. Diogo Jota is also presently nursing an injury, as are Fabinho and Naby Keita.

It is fair to say that the Reds have seen their title defence falter due to wholesale injuries, especially in the backline which has well and truly crippled. Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak have been winter additions to the squad, but they will surely take time to settle in. Plus, it is fair to say that a significant amount of damage has already been done to Liverpool.

Manchester United did get going this season after a slow start, similar to Manchester City, but recent results against Sheffield United and Arsenal have given the race a massive twist. The Red Devils are now three points behind their crosstown rivals and risk losing further ground due to the side’s game in hand. Gary Neville has also questioned the club’s title credentials.

While Tottenham Hotspur were contenders too and topped the league at one point, a major part of their title race was visibly dependent on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. The attacking duo has scored majority of the goals under Jose Mourinho, whose defensive approach has not worked wonders lately due to the absence of a quality centre-back. Kane’s injury is already having visible ramifications.

Arsenal and Chelsea have not done enough to flex their title credentials, it is fair to say. The Gunners did not have a great start to the season and were close to the relegation zone. While they may have caught up pace now, it is already too late to contend for England’s summit and cover up a deficit of no less than 13 points.

Chelsea did top the Premier League in December, but a horrid run of form over a 50-day period has seen them drop to seventh, 11 points off the top. Frank Lampard has already been shown the door and with the attackers misfiring in recent weeks, the Blues’ only realistic target may be a top four finish come the end of the campaign.

Everton, Leicester City and West Ham have come menacingly close to the top of the table, but it is not foreseeable to see either of them finishing over Manchester City. The clubs don’t have a squad depth as good as the challengers, which is one of the most crucial aspects this season- due to the unusual nature of crammed calendars.

City have arguably bought their way to the title with a squad worth multimillions, but the way they have turned the season around cannot be questioned. Pep Guardiola’s side may well lift its third Premier League crown in four years, and while they may have taken the monetary way out, the sporting results coupled by other side’s downfall in one way or another cannot be overlooked.

Who do you think will win the league this year?