Manchester City’s superior league position feels like it came out of the blue – but really their quality was under everybody’s noses.
Pep Guardiola’s winning machine were the ninth team to top the Premier League table, but the Sky Blue juggernaut is as well oiled and destructive as ever before – the only difference is the manner in which it has gone about its business.
Their last two Premier League title victories of 2017/18 and 2018/19 were built upon their abilities in vaporising opposition in a sea of free-flowing, attacking fury.
This season however, they have been more subtle, cunning and efficient, defending their territory before choosing the right moment to strike like a viper.
The Citizens have been watertight at the back, only conceding 16 goals in all competitions – a staggering record considering five of those goals came in their 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Leicester City back in September.
There are two men in particular City fans have to thank – defensive dynamos Ruben Dias, a £65 million signing from Benfica in the summer, and forgotten man John Stones.
As well as forming an incredible defensive partnership, both Dias and Stones also scored in their 2-1 victory against West Ham United, with the latter’s first time effort proving to be the winning goal.
Former Chelsea and England winger Joe Cole, who is now a pundit for BT Sport, earmarked the pair for praise after City’s well fought victory against The Hammers.
“They’ve put those two (Stones and Dias) together and they’ve conceded three goals in 16 games, which is just giving a platform for everyone else. Together they look unstoppable,” said the ex-England international.
Cole also praised Stones’ recovery this season, having almost become a forgotten man in the last two seasons.
“No one has ever doubted what he can do on the ball. He’s probably as technically efficient as a decent striker with the ball at his feet. It was the other side of his game people questioned,” said Cole.
“Even I was thinking, is he ever going to get there (at City)? Then you look at his age, he’s in his mid-twenties, he’s made all his mistakes and he’s learned from it.
“A young player has come in next to him, Dias, and jolted him because he’s the finished article. It’s very rare a player that young is the finished article like Dias is, it’s a great bit of recruitment.”
Can anyone in the Premier League or Europe break City’s resilience? We’ll just have to wait and see.