Can Manchester City be stopped in the Premier League this season?

By on November 2, 2017

Can Manchester City be stopped in the Premier League this season? Not for the first time, Gary Neville looks to have hit the nail right on the head.

Just as the former Manchester United defender and now TV pundit says, winter is no wonderland for City.

It may be dismissed as something of a cliché by various, but there is basis in fact about certain ‘Flash Harry’ players not fancying the job as much when the English weather turns cold and they have to dig out the gloves and, dare we say it, snoods.

Manchester City of course, have their fair share of mercurial talents who are naturally more effective on pristine pitches, with the sun beating down and the wind nothing more than a gentle breeze.

And if you look back at the pattern of results ever since the self-styled ‘Cityzens’ first lifted the Premier League trophy in 2011-12, there is a definite trend that, whoever the manager, they go off the boil during the coldest months before returning to their best with a flourish in the spring.

With a number of football tipsters expecting Man City to slow down over the winter period, giving the likes of Chelsea, Man U and Spurs a chance to close the gap, this has also not been lost on Neville, who is renowned for his shrewd footballing insight. He told Sky Sports on the Monday Night Football programme:

“They (Manchester City) are at an outstandingly high level. They can only stop themselves. I mention the words ‘robustness’ and ‘resilience’. I look at the winter months and it seems like an old cliché – can you go away to Stoke and that sort of garbage – but there’s a little bit more to it than that.

“If you look at Manchester City’s last two seasons, one under Manuel Pellegrini and one under Pep Guardiola, and you look at November, December and January… they probably would have won two titles in those two seasons if they had maintained their championship-winning level.

“If they drop to that level in those months again, they will be in trouble. Those months are tough, the toughest months, I don’t care what anyone says.

“It’s the toughest months to play football – the games, the weather, the injuries, the stockpile of fixtures, the Champions League, the Christmas period…

“Can they get through to February, March and April when the weather gets better again and it’s an easier time of year to play football?

“My view is that’s cost them in the last two seasons and if they can get through those three months then it could be one of the most outstanding performances.”

Neville believes City manager Guardiola, famed for his meticulous approach, will be fully aware of the previous downfalls of a club that has won just two Premier League titles despite being perennial challengers over the last seven years.

He added: “They’ve got a bit of experience in that team, but those are the months that will be the test. I’m not saying they can’t get through it because I think they are playing at a level whereby they should be able to beat anyone.

“But Pep Guardiola will know what has cost the team in the last two seasons. He will know it’s the November, December and January runs – and they are coming into that now.

“The test is to come, but at the moment they are reaching a level which is quite incredible and brilliant to watch.”


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