The World Cup offers a welcome break for most of the teams in the Premier League. For many, it will be a time to regroup after a less-than-stellar performance so far. But for some like Arsenal and Newcastle United, it will be an unwelcome disruption to the fine form that has seen them performing beyond even their wildest dreams.
For Manchester City the world cup break could be a blessing in disguise. The Blues’ recent form has been patchy to say the least. Since the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in the middle of October, the team has struggled to win games.
Against Brighton at the Etihad Stadium the away side dominated ball possession edging City 52% to 48% at the end of the encounter. Although the Blues ran away 3-1 victors, the scoreline did not really reflect how the game panned out.
It took a stupendous Kevin De Bruyne free kick to settle the score at Leicester. The team struggled to break down the resolute Leicester City team with some blaming it on the absence of main man Erling Haaland as a result of injury. But the striker has since recovered and despite his presence the team has not been able to blow away teams as was the case from the beginning of the season.
The last two league games have been particularly reflective of this. Normally, against Fulham and Brentford, City will be expected to pick up routine wins especially at home. But the Blues struggled in both games needing a last-gasp penalty to pick up maximum points against Fulham.
The 2-1 defeat against Brentford in the last game before the World Cup brought things full cycle for the team. It’s safe to say that result has been coming for a long while. The real danger here is the fact that Arsenal who seem to be the main title challengers for City this season took full advantage by beating Wolves to go five points clear at the top of the league table.
Another in-form team out to make a statement this season, Newcastle United moved to within two points of City and now sits third on the table. With the next two games coming against Liverpool in the EFL Cup and Leeds United in the league it would have been difficult for the team to pick up wins going by the prevailing form.
Having faced Liverpool twice already this season and lost on both occasions, another defeat will not have been a surprise. However with the World Cup now offering the team a reprieve, both players and the manager can use the opportunity to recalibrate.
Although City along with Bayern Munich will be most represented in Qatar with 16 players each, time spent with the national team’s will hopefully break the ongoing pattern. The one-month break could also work in City’s favour in the sense that it could break the momentum of other teams riding high, especially Arsenal.
In that regard, the World Cup break could indeed be a blessing for Manchester City.