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The Premier League is never so easily decided as people think

4 December 2017

8:07 AM

4 December 2017

8:07 AM

Away from politics for a few moments. Football. What about Manchester City? The pundits and experts were euphuistic in their praise for City’s late-achieved win over the vermin, West Ham. And we were told that winning late is the mark of a good team and that it engenders positivity and confidence among the squad. Maybe so. At the same time we were told that West Ham had been ‘gritty’ to hold on for so long, and this might give them a foundation from which to escape the relegation trapdoor. I doubt that a little more.

City have been running away with the title this season – I tipped them to win the league back in August, and there they are, a sackful of points clear at the top. But look through their results going back to early October. You can easily see the gradual narrowing in their victories, from those magnificent baroque hammerings of Stoke City et al before the nights drew in, to the scratched out last minute successes of the last few weeks. They have won all of their last three games, against terribly poor opposition, by goals in the last few minutes. They have still won them, for sure, but they have been a little fortunate to do so, especially against an abject Southampton.

The Premier League is never so easily decided as people think. I discern a bit of a tailing off in the excellent Manchester City – and not down, as Pep Guardiola would suggest – because opposing teams just come to defend at the Etihad. They always did mate: nothing has changed except for your side’s inability to break them down quite so easily. Here’s a bet – the horrible Mourinho’s Manchester United, who are looking very good, will win the Rain City Derby. And the title race will be wide open. And West Ham? Oh, may the miseries increase…

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