Manchester City have undoubtedly been the team to beat in recent time, and they reached new heights last season after winning the treble, including their first ever Champions League trophy.
Things have not been going too badly this season, with City qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League yet again, but things in the Premier League have not been going so smoothly as of late.
In their last four Premier League games, they have only managed three draws and a defeat. Despite the lack of points, they did manage their draws against Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, before losing 1-0 to a deflected Leon Bailey goal at Villa Park.
Are Man City out of form, or is too much expected from them in this day and age, and what can they do to get back on track?
Victims Of Their Own Success
Having won countless trophies over the past few seasons, including Premier League titles, FA Cups, Carabao Cups, a single Champions League and a UEFA Super Cup, there are now expectations for City to win at least one trophy every season.
A full season without a trophy, now, would be a catastrophic failure for Man City, who have already lost in the Community Shield, and have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup so far.
Not to mention, they rarely taste defeat. In the Premier League last season, they lost just four games, with only one of those coming at home, whereas the season before, they lost just three.
Man City dropping points, or even worse, losing, occurs very rarely, and Man City fans, in recent times, have lived a life where winless runs are not something that occurs.
For any other club, this would just be a bit of a blip in the season, but for Man City, because of their success and desire to win every game, it feels like so much more than that.
Is It A Big Overreaction?
Going on a winless run is something that occurs at every club. Even last season, Arsenal went four games without a win, drawing against Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham, before losing against Man City.
There was no major overreaction at the time, as many still expected Man City to go on and win the league, which they did.
Even in the four games Man City have ’struggled‘ in, they have played reasonably well, and would feel extremely unfortunate to not have come away with three points in many of those games.
They led three times away against Chelsea, and had the better of the chances throughout the game. Against Liverpool, they dominated, and led, but could not put the game out of sight.
The same happened against Spurs. City trailed this time, fought back and got themselves ahead, and wasted countless chances which could have put the game out of sight.
Going forward, City have been the same. They look a constant threat, but their finishing has let them down more so in these games.
The defending has not been entirely bad either. Trent’s equaliser for Liverpool was a brilliant finish that Ederson would have done extremely well to save. Bailey’s winning goal for Aston Villa deflected leaving Ederson with no chance.
But, there have been times where the defending has been poor also. The penalty given away in their game against Chelsea was a rash decision, and an unneeded challenge.
Their game against Villa was the biggest shock. They played relatively well when attacking. They carved Villa open time after time, but the final ball never sat right, whilst Martinez produced a brilliant double save to keep the scores at 0-0.
City were awful defensively however, constantly giving the ball away in their own third when trying to play out from the back, the City defence could not deal with the balls over the top to Watkins, and every time Bailey received the ball, he looked a constant threat.
Overall, there is a slight overreaction to this winless run City are on. They have played some extremely tough teams, and have still played well in these games, where most other teams would struggle, but the defensive side of their game has certainly been lacking in recent weeks.
Last season, between November and mid January, Man City lost twice and drew once in the five games they played.
It is no surprise that they are, once again, struggling to pick up points in the same period this season, especially with key players such as Rodri and De Bruyne missing.
They still managed to turn the tables last season, however, by doing something City have been capable of for years. Putting together a massive winning streak, just when it matters.
Just when everyone thought the league title was all but Arsenal’s to win, they pulled out a 16 game unbeaten streak in the Premier League, which ended on the last day of the season with a 1-0 loss to Brentford.
The season before, City pipped Liverpool to the title by a single point, after one defeat in 28 Premier League games.
Historically speaking, Man City are more than capable of being completely out of a title race come Christmas time, and then putting together an unbeaten run until the end of the season.
Would it be surprising if after this poor run of results City did not lose a game by the end of the season? Probably not.
Overall, Man City have set a precedent that they must win every game, and any losing run will be heavily questioned by fans and pundits alike.
It is so unlike Man City to not win a game in four attempts, but their football has still been enjoyable to watch, and they have been unfortunate at times not to pick up all three points.
It will be interesting to see how City respond over the next few games, and whether Pep changes anything with his team. The return of Rodri will surely give them a helping hand, as they are statistically better with him in the squad. In fact, they haven't lost a single game he's played this season, but have lost every game he hasn't.
One thing for sure, is that it is going to be a very entertaining title race this season, as it no longer looks like a two horse race. City should certainly not be discounted just yet.