Harry Fitzpatrick > Since Manchester City’s extraordinary run of form, many pundits are calling the Premier League title race all but over; however they refuse to totally rule out their neighbours Manchester United. With a 10-point lead over United and 13 games left, it is far from over mathematically and City still need plenty more points to wrap up the title. Interestingly, neither Leicester (level on points with United) or West Ham (just four points further behind) are even close to the pundits’ thoughts when it comes to the top spot.
Yes, City are in historically good form and seem formidable, but winning the previous game does not mean that they will win the next. A consequence of their run is the added pressure heaped onto them. Talk of a quadruple is lingering and this will be Pep’s tenth year without winning the Champions League trophy. With these added issues to contend with, there is surely no way they can keep a fully fit, rested squad that keeps winning game after game. Teams in European competitions often struggle with the added fixtures and long-distance travel, something we do not have to concern ourselves with as we head towards the home stretch. If we can keep picking up points in the next tough run of fixtures whilst the teams fighting on multiple fronts drop points, why can’t we close the gap?
Obviously this is an unlikely scenario, but if we did pick up 8-10 points on City over the next two months, they will really have the pressure on them to pick wins. This would be especially true with our easier looking run in whilst City play Villa, Chelsea and Everton in their last six matches. Not only that, but a Carabao Cup Final against Spurs and a potential two-legged tie in the Champions League semi-final, not to mention the FA Cup they are still fighting to retain. Something has to give and if the gap begins to close, they will have no rest.
Not only would it be a monumental effort from Moyes and his team, but it would also require vast amounts of luck. We have been lucky on the injury front so far this season considering our squad depth. Ogbonna and Yarmolenko are the only long-term absentees from the first team this year and we have good cover at centre back whilst Lingard has looked the real deal. If Rice or Soucek went down with a substantial injury, I would seriously fear for our top half hopes, let alone Europe or the title. It would need a Moyes masterplan of epic proportions to maintain this run without one of them.
If we did miraculously win our last 13 games, we’d finish on 84 points for the year. The last time City didn’t manage to top that was the 16/17 season, the year of Moyes’ one year spell in charge of Sunderland when they were relegated with barely a whimper and Pep’s first year in English football. 84 points has not won the Premier League since Leicester City’s triumph the previous season, when they accumulated 81.
Simply put, the trophy will not be coming to the London Stadium this year. Survival was all we wanted this year and the boys have done us proud. Considering we shipped five at home in pre-season to Bournemouth, I cannot believe I am writing this in February. If we do pull this off, it starts against our ‘title rivals’ this weekend.