Premiership leaders Man City are still unbeaten as we move into December and Pep Guardiola is having to field questions about whether they can become the new Invincibles. A late winner against Southampton last weekend provided their 13th league victory of the season and they have only dropped points once – a draw with Everton back in August. They spent September and October annihilating the opposition, regularly winning by four or five goals. City looked a little more laboured in November, but still found a way to win games. They have shown they can win beautifully and win ugly, that they can roll up their sleeves and grind out results, and that is the stuff of champions.
City are now as low as 1/16 to win the title and best priced at a paltry 1/8 with Bet Stars, so there is no value in that. A more intriguing market is whether they can finish the season unbeaten. William Hill is offering 8/1 on them finishing the campaign as Invincibles, but Guardiola is adamant they will lose at some point. “Absolutely we will be beaten,” he said after Huddersfield ran them close a couple of weeks ago. But it is only natural that the Spaniard will seek to deflect pressure away from his team.
Arsenal proved that it is possible to finish a season unbeaten when they became Invincibles back in 2003/04. City have more points than Wenger’s men did at this point in the season and have many of the same qualities. In Fernandinho, they have a superb holding midfielder in the mould of Gilberto Silva, who allows the more creative players freedom to express themselves. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are pulling the strings to devastating effect from deep positions, and forwards Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane are reaping the rewards. Sterling has scored in his last three games to take his total for the season to 13 and has bagged a goal every 89 minutes so far, making him a great option to score at any time in their next game at home to West Ham (evens with Betfred).
City are just 1/12 with most bookmakers to beat the Hammers and that is a reflection of how dominant they have been in the league this season. Not only are they attacking with pace, dynamism, invention and effortless grace, they are also defending extremely well. Ederson has had a calming influence between the sticks, Nicolas Otamendi is vastly improved, Kyle Walker has been a great signing on the right and Fernandinho is screening them well. They have lost John Stones to injury, but captain Vincent Kompany has returned to take his place. Everything is working out perfectly for them.
They should steamroller West Ham, who have the league’s worst defence, having conceded a remarkable 30 goals in 14 games. City have scored 44 in 14, so this game has goals written all over it. Man City and over 4.5 goals may tempt you at 8/11 with Sky Bet, or Man City -2.5 Asian handicap at 13/16 with 888 Sport and Unibet. There is not a great deal of value in this game, but after that we can look forward to the big one: Man Utd v Man City at Old Trafford.
This could prove to be the biggest Manchester derby in years. Jose Mourinho will be desperate to stop his old rival Guardiola becoming an Invincible and will have crafted a meticulous plan to thwart City. If Utd can take three points it will blow the title race wide open, but if City win then we may as well crown them champions. After Utd they play Swansea and then Tottenham all within a few days of one another. If City emerge from that spell of fixtures with their unbeaten record still intact, Guardiola may find it very difficult to deflect questions about finishing the season without losing a game, and that 8/1 looks intriguing.