Manchester City have relied on a lengthy winning run around October, November and December in the last two seasons to secure the Premier League title. Things have not gone quite the same way this term. The six-week break for the World Cup did not help matters but the team has not fared much better even after the tournament. That has resulted in Arsenal sitting comfortably on top of the table with just 10 games to go.
The team needed to put together three wins in a row to stay within touching distance of Mikel Arteta’s side in the Premier League title race, secure a Champions League quarter-final spot, and reach the last four in the FA Cup. That was achieved with 14 goals scored, none conceded. The team is in the middle of an amazing run of form.
And just when the next target was to hunt down Arsenal and bridge the gap in the next few weeks, another forced break is upon us. The last thing Manchester City needed heading into the final stretch of the season was a disruption of such a momentum.
City’s performance this season has been quite unpredictable. The team has suffered some unexpected or even inexplicable losses and draws that could prove very costly by season’s end if the damage is not fixed in the next few weeks.
The League Cup quarter-final loss to Southampton cost the club the trophy. Eric Ten Hag took full advantage leading Manchester United to secure his first trophy at Old Trafford. It was a win that came at Pep Guardiola’s and Manchester City’s expense.
Poised to cross paths in the FA Cup final if both teams dispatch their semi-final opponents, the Blues will need to be at their best to triumph. But more pressing at the moment is the need to bridge the gap to Arsenal. A lengthy winning run will be required to overtake the Gunners who have been quite consistent this season.
The London side put together a 13-game winning run until it was halted by Everton at the beginning of February. But since emerging from the rough patch the team has been on a six-game winning run heading into last weekend.
City now need to find a way to match or surpass Arsenal’s consistency. And just when the team was hitting new heights in performance, in came another forced break for international matches.
The break portends many dangers for City. Not only is there a possibility of some key players getting injured while representing their countries, by the time the team reconvenes after two weeks, the synergy may not be there. It may take some time for the players to get back to the rhythm they were in before the break.
Add to that the distraction from the Champions League and the situation will play perfectly into Arsenal’s hands with the title now theirs to lose.