The champions are nowhere near their best, but the holiday period has exposed Arsenal and Liverpool’s weaknesses

As the dust settles after the Christmas programme there is one obvious winner: Manchester City. Not only did the champions win the Club World Championship with a pair of straightforward victories over Urawa Red Diamonds and Fluminense, but they returned to England to find nobody had really taken advantage of their absence. Wins over Everton and Sheffield United have them five points off the top with a game in hand.

Despite a sense that they’re still nowhere near their best, City have won six of their last seven games in all competitions and won’t play another side in the top eight until the Manchester derby on the first weekend of March. Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Jérémy Doku should all be back from injury within the next month. It may be that the run of successive victories everybody has been predicting for them has already begun.

Continue reading...