One game past the halfway mark of the Premier League season, Manchester City currently sit in fourth place with 42 points and a +19 goal differential, seven points behind leaders Chelsea, two behind second-place Liverpool and level with Tottenham Hotspur.
While most clubs would be happy to be in the Top 4, City had arguably the highest expectations of all Premier League clubs after bringing in the "new era", featuring Pep Guardiola and his signature style of football. Plenty of fans are disappointed that City already sit so far behind the league leaders already, and most of the issues are because of the defense, which consist of Guardiola’s strategy and heavily scrutinized signings like John Stones and Claudio Bravo.
Here are some 1st half Manchester City awards and recognitions, along with predictions for the second half of the season.
MVP: Kevin De Bruyne
The second year player from Wolfsburg proved his worth once again this season, leading City with the most scoring chances created, and his nine assists lead the entire Premier League.
With his exceptional passing ability and football knowledge, De Bruyne picks out passes like nobody in the business, and he and Sergio Agüero form one of the Premier League’s best attacking duos. One of his most signature plays came in the match against Hull City, when De Bruyne pointed Kelechi Iheanacho to make a run into the box and played a pass out to David Silva. Silva crossed the ball into Iheanacho, and he scored an easy tap-in. Kevin, running the show.
Biggest Disappointment: Fernandinho
While holding up City’s midfield to prevent exposure of the back line, Fernandinho has been City’s disappointment for a simple reason: discipline. In his last six games, Fernandinho has received three red cards, which is quite surprising as he had only seen red once in his entire career with Shakhtar Donetsk and City prior to this season.
His performances are amazing as always, but he cannot let his frustration boil over, especially since new signing Ilkay Gundogan is out for the season with a knee injury. Fernando will most likely take Dinho's place during his four-game suspension, but he's not nearly as talented as his Brazilian counterpart.
Best Surprise: Raheem Sterling
While the £50 million price tag seemed quite overwhelming for the English winger, Sterling has finally lived up to his transfer fee. Second on the team in both goals (5) and assists (4), Sterling performs best in big games, most notably against Arsenal. A fantastic switch pass from De Bruyne led Sterling down the right side of the pitch, and he cut in to score a sublime goal at the near post, beating Petr Cech.
Many fans were skeptical of his arrival to Manchester, and some believed the attacking talent around him would push him out of the starting eleven because he relies too heavily on pace alone; however, Sterling is capable of contributing greatly to the starting lineup.
Best Moment/Goal: Kevin De Bruyne vs Barcelona
In one of City’s biggest games, a Champions League group stage match against Barcelona turned into a 3-1 win, one of the club’s best wins of all time. Tied at 1-1 in the second half, De Bruyne faced a free kick 25 yards away from the goal. His far-post strike left Marc-André ter Stegen hopeless, and he couldn’t move off his feet.
Some honorable mentions include KDB vs. Manchester United, Sergio Agüero vs. Burnley, Sergio Aguero vs. West Brom, Raheem Sterling vs. Arsenal, and De Bruyne vs. Bournemouth.
While it is still quite early to predict who will come out on top of the Premier League, City still have a fighting chance in the title race. Chelsea’s winning streak has ended, and if City capitalize, the race could be theirs to win.
In Champions League, City face AS Monaco in the first knockout stage. They must not underestimate the French side, as they played well in the group stage and beat Tottenham, who themselves beat City earlier this season. However, I believe City will manage to make their way past Monaco, but the rest of the tournament is impossible to predict because the draw includes all kinds of tough matchups for City.
In Premier League, I believe Pep Guardiola will motivate and turn around the City squad in the second half of the season. However, I don’t know if it will be quite enough to win the title. I believe City will finish the season in 2nd behind Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, as their amazing run will most likely prove to be too tough to overcome. A respectable finish for most, but title ambitions may have to wait.