Manchester City. There’s nothing to suggest that they’re not going to power on through to the end. Pep Guardiola had a bit to do at the beginning of the season, as did a lot of the big teams with Leicester City surprising everybody, But he’s already made some very good signings. The German midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan, for example, will come good now he is ready to play.
Meanwhile, Pep has taken no crap from the stars. Straight away, he told the players who he didn’t want, so there shouldn’t be too many bad vibes hanging around. But he’s been lucky: there was less to do with his strike force as he was already blessed with a pretty fearsome set-up. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne had settled in, David Silva is fantastic and if you can keep him fit, Sergio Aguero is the best striker in the league. It’s very different to Mourinho who has to work out how to get all his attacking options linking together. Pep has the best squad available to him.
Defensively, they can be got at, but they do look better in that department than previous seasons, and Claudio Bravo is definitely an upgrade on Joe Hart, and they’ve upgraded their weak links. Meanwhile with Jon Stones, Pep has a player he can mould into the finished article. They have experience at the back too.
The spanner in the works could be the psychological trickery of Jose Mourinho. But Pep would have psyched himself up for it, almost from the minute he knew he was coming. He’s questioned all the time on the subject, but back in the days of Barca versus Real, there was more of a cauldron because there was only two teams to focus on in that league. He’ll know not to react to anything from Mourinho.