Last season, fans and pundits alike were running out of superlatives for Manchester City, and rightly so. They walked their way to the title in record-breaking fashion. As we come to the business end of the following season, the compliments continue.
However, there’s another side from the North West of England that’s been stealing some of their thunder, whilst providing serious competition for the Premier League title. In this article, we will take a look at the season that Manchester City is having and how it compares to their title winning campaign last year.
After the same amount of games last season, City were 16 points clear at the top of the table. This season they have already lost 3 more games than they had at the same stage last season and have 10 fewer points. The defeats this season came against Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Newcastle United. In each of those defeats Manchester City had 60%+ possession, as you might expect. After last season, it appears teams now set up in a certain way when playing City. Who can blame them? They know they’ll get few chances in the game and it’s important they try and take them, like Crystal Palace did at the Etihad Stadium.
Many teams in the league will put the majority of their players behind the ball. This makes it harder for City, but not impossible. Where they might have run riot last season they have simply found a way this season. Bournemouth away is a perfect example of this, with Eddie Howe scrapping his usual tactical approach for a much more structured and disciplined one.
Many were critical of Bournemouth that day, but as we have mentioned, they’re not the first team to do this and they’ll certainly not be the last. It’s tough, and not always what we have come to love about the beautiful game but Guardiola will not be worrying. In fact, he noted that the performance against Bournemouth was “one of the best” and that his players “deserve admiration”.
As you might expect, the goals have been flowing once more. Manchester City have scored 81 goals so far this season, or 2.61 goals per game on average. Using the goal-timings feature, we can see that they score every 34 minutes. At home, City have averaged 3.31 goals per game. They have scored two or more in 15 out of 16 home games this season. The only game where they failed to score two or more goals was against West Ham - The Manuel Pellegrini effect!
Goals come at any moment for City and there’s no real trend in the data to suggest that they are better before or after half-time, with 52% of goals coming in the first-half and 48% coming in the second-half. There’s slightly more chance of a goal in the first-half when City are playing away from home. On the road, 57% of goals have been scored in the first-half of games.
Did you know, if the Premier League stopped all games at HT then Crystal Palace would be 6th? Manchester City would also be 6 points clear whilst the bottom 3 would be… Exactly the same.
Sergio Agüero has had an amazing season, scoring 19 Premier League goals in 27 appearances. He’s got 27 in all competitions and there’s talk of him being awarded the PFA player of the year, should Manchester City win the title. For me, he’s one of the most clinical forwards the Premier League has ever seen. He showed that again on Saturday at Fulham.
The defence has had its fair share of rotation this season. Vincent Kompany has featured just 12 times in the Premier League this season. Still, it’s Manchester City and Liverpool who top the charts in terms of goals conceded. City have conceded 21 goals in 31 games, keeping 15 clean sheets. This equates to 0.68 goals per game. However, it’s Liverpool and their monstrous defender Virgil van Dijk who has the best defensive record in the Premier League this season. They have conceded just 18 goals in 31 games, keeping 17 clean sheets.
It’s really impressive stuff from Liverpool and it’s amazing what a difference van Dijk and Alisson have made. The worst defence in the Premier League belongs to Fulham, who have conceded 70 goals in 31 games. Truly shocking.
Has Manchester City’s defence improved from last season? Not really, but it’s not worse either. Last season City conceded 0.71 goals per game, compared to 0.68 so far this season. The difference is microscopic. They have, however, conceded less goals on average away from home this season, but there’s still games left to play so be sure to check back for an update on these statistics.
Form and Trends
There’s not much to say other than City are an amazing team, once more. It’s quite obvious when you look at the stats. They rarely lose, and they hardly ever draw. They have scored in every single game this season, apart from one. That was against Liverpool, where they drew 0-0 at Anfield. If they go on to lift the title in May, they’ll see that point as a big part of the success. Since February, they have conceded in just two games and can currently boast a seven-game winning streak.
More: Premier League Form
They are coming into their stride at just the right time of the season and the next few fixtures in the Premier League look like this:
- Cardiff (H)
- Crystal Palace (A)
- Tottenham (H)
How many will they score here? Will Liverpool be able to match their results or could there be a gap at the top of the table by the time City host Tottenham on April 20th. This title race is far from over - after Spurs, City travel to Manchester United.
For an extensive look at Manchester City’s season, you can visit FootyStats. They allow you to filter all kinds of data and even look back in time at past seasons. There’s also player stats, predictions and interactive football form guides - A really useful research tool.
You can follow City Xtra on twitter for more Manchester City content here: @City_Xtra