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Premier League leaders at Christmas: 5 reasons City are top of the table

| 21.12.2021

Why City are Premier League leaders at Christmas

Champions Manchester City will top the Premier League at Christmas after hitting form with a run of eight successive wins.

City took advantage of draws for Liverpool and Chelsea with a 4-0 victory at Newcastle at the weekend which moved them three points clear at the top of the table.

Pep Guardiola’s side are now 4/11 favourites to retain the title and lift the Premier League trophy for the fourth time in five seasons.

Here, Ladbrokes looks at some of the reasons why City are the Premier League leaders at Christmas.

Quality of squad

It may seem a long time ago now, but City did not have a great start to the campaign, losing their opening game at Tottenham with a host of players – notably their England internationals – undercooked after going deep into the tournament at Euro 2020.

With star playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden injured and record signing Jack Grealish taking time to settle, City needed to find the decisive contributions from elsewhere.

Naturally in a squad packed with talent, particularly in terms of midfielders, other players stepped up.

Bernardo Silva with point to prove

One of the players to rise to the challenge was Bernardo Silva. The Portugal international let it be known he wanted to leave the club in the summer for a fresh challenge after a couple of seasons on the fringes of Guardiola’s squad.

Bernardo Silva, Man City v PSG

Yet no move materialised and, after injuries presented an opportunity to return to the team, he grabbed it with both hands.

The 27-year-old attacker has arguably been City’s most influential player this term, providing the midfield impetus and chipping in with seven goals which have seen his Premier League top goalscorer odds trimmed to 66/1.

Evolving threat and the role of Joao Cancelo

Guardiola has brought in a new brand of play whereby his full-backs come inside when in possession to bolster midfield. Joao Cancelo has really stepped it up this season, often from his lesser-preferred side on the left.

The Portuguese effectively operates as an extra playmaker and the quality of his delivery has been exquisite, with eye-catching curling balls with the outside of the boot and volleyed crosses.

He showed his eye for goal in Sunday’s win at Newcastle and also performs the more conventional full-back duties well too.

Good man-management and form of Raheem Sterling

Although he was picked to start in the Champions League final, Raheem Sterling appeared to fall out of favour in the latter part of last season.

He remained a peripheral figure in the opening weeks of the current campaign and, given his status in the English game, it led to speculation over his future.

Raheem Sterling

Yet Guardiola maintained the situation was simply a case of other players being in better form and Sterling’s chance would come again.

He was only ever an injury or two to team-mates away from a recall and, when the chances started to come again, he was hungry and ready to take them. It appears a case of excellent man-management.

Controlling possession and strong defence

City not only have the best points tally but also the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded just a measly nine goals.

Their back line is well led by Ruben Dias, with Aymeric Laporte returning to form and John Stones, after not featuring in the first two months of the season, building on his good work of last term. Goalkeeper Ederson has also made crucial saves when required.

Yet it is not just about the quality of the defenders, it is about City’s whole style of play. By consistently dominating possession, City prevent opponents from applying pressure. Guardiola was once scoffed at for saying he did not want his defenders to tackle.

What he meant was that he wanted the team to play in such a way that they did not need to. City are living up to that vision and deserve to be Premier League leaders at Christmas.

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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication

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Author

Warren Barner