The Citizens are struggling. Sitting in tenth, one spot above Arsenal on goal difference alone, they’re certainly further back than they’d like to be. Games are being decided more from the brilliance of Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, with both players appearing increasingly frustrated. When those two have an off-day, City drop points.
Their problems stem from wanting to play beautiful, attacking football. However, against teams who sit in a low-lying block – which is to say, everybody that plays them these days – their overloads in the final third become too top-heavy, exposing their center-backs, and the system as a whole, to the counter. They also restrict their own space, and are liable to turn the ball over as a result.
It’s a weakness Arsenal exposed in our 2-0 FA Cup win during Project Restart, and an area of exploitation that Leicester stomped all over this September during their 5-2 rout. What’s more, City haven’t scored more than one goal in five games this season, and while they’ve never been held scoreless, they’re a shadow of their former selves.
But, it’s a Pep Guardiola side. Expect them to rebound, either after this international break or after the Christmas period. If they time it right, they should be able to barnstorm up the table, and fulfill my prediction that they’ll retake the title.
Predicted Finish: 1st.
The Red Devils have had a torrid start to the season. Collecting ten points from a possible 24, they’re suffering from a negative goal difference, and a bewildering run of form. Some weeks – the 4-1 win over Newcastle, and their pulverizing 5-0 win over RB Leipzig stand out – they’re unbeatable, but their 1-3, 0-1, and 1-6 losses at home to Newcastle, Arsenal, and Spurs cast a doubting spotlight on their abilities.
Much of this inconsistency is the hallmark of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He just can’t seem to figure out the tactics that work best for this United side – my particular favorite is the instance against Spurs, where he quite literally clapped his hands and shouted “wakey wakey,” at a shambolic United side, in order to motivate them (hint, it didn’t work) – and as a result, they just can’t seem to chain good form together.
I don’t think they’re capable of pulling together a run like they did last year, where they went 13 unbeaten to regain a Champions League place for the year. In fact, barring an FA Cup win, they won’t make Europa League next season. It’ll be a rude awakening.