🌡 Hot Take: Are Man City that good or is the PL just really bad?

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Dan Burke

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If the Premier League title race were a football match, Manchester City are currently 2-0 up. They haven’t won yet, but it’s looking pretty likely.

It’s not unthinkable they could end this weekend 13 points clear of their nearest challengers, which would be like going 3-0 up. It still wouldn’t be over, but it would take an incredible collapse for them to let it slip.

Manchester City 2
West Ham 1
Full time

Few people saw the title race panning out like this back in November, when City had made their worst start to a season since Mark Hughes was their manager.

Indeed, their 1-1 draw at home to struggling West Brom on 15 December saw them go sixth in the table, which was their highest league position of the season at that point.

That was the last match in any competition that City didn’t win and their run of consecutive victories in all competitions currently stands at 19.

They’re obviously a brilliant team but it’s difficult to know in this weird, unique season quite where they rank in terms of the Premier League’s all-time greats.

Even if they win every league game between now and the end of the season they will only end up with 98 points – two short of their own Premier League record.

And you could make a strong argument that even the City team of 2018/19 was better than this one, given they won the title (and two domestic cups) all while an equally excellent Liverpool side were breathing down their necks.

Perhaps that’s the secret to true sporting greatness. You’re only as good as your rivals.

And at the moment, City have no real rivals in the Premier League.

Manchester United have never looked truly capable of winning the title this season, while Leicester crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Slavia Prague on Thursday.

After that it’s a West Ham side who were considered potential relegation candidates earlier in the season, and a Chelsea who were so bad they sacked their manager last month.

Then there’s injury-hit Liverpool, whose title defence ended so prematurely they’re like that mate who has to be put in a taxi home because they’ve been sick on themselves at 8pm.

This City may not be the greatest Premier League team ever but this is the biggest gulf in class we’ve seen between the league’s best team and the rest for quite some time.

That’s taking nothing away from Pep Guardiola, who has done a magnificent job to turn City’s season around and continues to evolve as a manager.

He is under no illusions that he’s been able to build a brilliant squad thanks to his club’s vast riches but money only gets you so far.

You need clever coaching and tactical innovation to get to the very top level and Guardiola has reminded us that he’s still the best in the business this season.

But maybe we should take a season that happens behind closed doors with a pinch of salt too.

It feels like Premier League matches are being played under laboratory conditions at the moment and that must be beneficial to a club which boasts the league’s most talented group of players on paper.

Without having to worry about external influences like a hostile crowd when they go to away grounds, City just have to focus on being the better football team. Nine times out of 10, they will do exactly that.

City will almost certainly win the Premier League title this season and they could well conquer Europe for the first time too.

But the true test of their greatness will be whether they can still dominate like this next season, when everything will hopefully be back to normal.