Manchester City set an outright English top-flight record by extending their winning streak to 15 matches in midweek but will face tougher opposition when they host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport).
On Wednesday, Swansea became the latest victims of the Man City juggernaut. A double from David Silva in addition to further goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero saw them swept aside in a convincing victory for the runaway league leaders.
Pep Guardiola’s side are still undefeated as we close in on the half-way point of the Premier League season. They have what is comfortably the best scoring record in the division, with their 52 goals coming at an average of just over three per match, but they have also conceded just 11 goals – the joint-fewest of anyone.
The result is an 11-point advantage at the top of the table and a position as the heavily odds-on favourites to win the Premier League title with all of the bookies. It would require something drastic to happen in the remainder of the campaign for them not to see it out from here.
Man City spent a lot of money to fine-tune their squad over the summer and benefits of those additions are plain to see, perhaps most demonstrably in the form of the goalkeeper Ederson – a clear upgrade on last season’s options. But improvements can also be noted in players who were already at the club. Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling are just three examples of players who have gone up a level this season.
Guardiola’s side are better collectively and individually than they were in the previous campaign and the worrying thing for their would-be competitors is that City’s is a relatively young squad with plenty of time to grow and improve as a unit. Even when their unbeaten run does inevitably come to an end, their present and future will still be bright.
It was Spurs who ended Chelsea’s winning streak at 13 matches last season, and they might again consider themselves viable vanquishers of the unvanquished. They have won three of their last four meetings with Man City, including a 2-1 win at the Etihad two seasons back.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have already proved themselves proficient at playing the sort of game they are likely to try and play against City. Home wins over Real Madrid and Liverpool and victories home and away to Borussia Dortmund were achieved by moving forward quickly into the space that ambitious opponents left for them to counter into.
Indeed, their struggles have largely come when faced with more defensively-minded opponents. Chelsea and Manchester United both took relatively cautious approaches in defeating them, while Spurs have also dropped points at home to Burnley, Swansea and West Bromwich Albion so far this season.
After one win in six from last October through to the start of December, Tottenham have regained a bit of confidence with a pair of home victories over the last week. A 5-1 thrashing of Stoke was followed by a slightly more laboured 2-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday. Serge Aurier fortuitously gave them the lead before Heung Min-Son added another late on.
Pochettino rested Dele Alli from starting action after a series of below-par displays and will hope that leaves the young attacking midfielder suitably refreshed for Saturday’s game against a side he scored against in both of last season’s meetings. On the negative side, the absence of injured defender Toby Alderweireld will be keenly felt. Spurs just aren’t quite as solid without him, as was evident in defeats to Arsenal and Leicester last month.
Man City are a stronger and more confident outfit than they were last season and additional small edges such as Alderweireld’s absence mean that while Spurs will certainly give them a good game, Guardiola’s side should still be fancied to continue their winning run by coming away with all three points from what should be an entertaining encounter.