Not even the most pessimistic Manchester City fan could have predicted that the club was going to lose against Norwich City weeks ago. In a game that was expected to be a whitewash, the Canaries pulled up one of the surprises of the season. A 3-2 defeat for the Sky Blues at the home of a newly promoted team was a first for Pep Guardiola since taking over at the Etihad Stadium in 2016. But it was a loss that could prove to be a blessing in the end.
To start with, check out the team’s reaction to the defeat. Three consecutive victories in different competitions without conceding a single goal. Scoring 14 times in the matches including an 8-0 mauling of Watford shows a team ready to set the records straight. The best team in the division for the last two years is not ready to stop just yet.
Usually, complacency is a key factor in teams failing to maintain their momentum after achieving some remarkable success. Real Madrid dominated the Champions League for three seasons straight. But the Spanish giants have been a shadow of themselves since last season. After getting dumped out of the competition by Ajax last term losing 4-1 to the Dutch side, the team continued where it left off losing 3-0 to Paris Saint-Germain last week.
Most of the players in the squad have won the competition up to four times. Therefore, it has become difficult to motivate them. It’s human nature to become complacent when things begin to look too easy. Many had handed the Premier League title to Man City at the beginning of the campaign. After last season’s accomplishments, it seemed the team only needed to show up this time around and stroll to another league title.
Liverpool’s continuous capitulation despite conquering the continent lent credence to that thinking. But then, a shocker early on. An unexpected defeat to relegation candidates Norwich City, a team that was missing most of the players in its starting XI served as the perfect jolt back to reality.
The same desire and hard work put into the previous campaigns (and even more) will be required to stay at the top. With Liverpool determined to end a three-decade long wait for the league title, the stakes are higher than ever. Five points ahead in the race after just six games makes the intention clear. Now City must get down to work and climb back up.
That’s exactly what the team has demonstrated in the last three games. Now no team will be underrated moving forward and no game taken lightly. The loss to Norwich will act as a steady reminder to the players to be on their toes. When Liverpool do drop points (and they will) the Sky Blues will be well positioned to take advantage of the slip.
Such slips are not going to be many as the Reds have already demonstrated by beating both Arsenal and Chelsea comfortably. And so City must take full advantage when they do occur. It’s better to lose now, learn from it and make amends than to capitulate in the final weeks of the campaign.
Sooner or later Jurgen Klopp’s men will begin to feel the pressure. And City can take advantage.