Twenty-four is a recognizable number. There are 24 carats in pure gold; 24 hours in a day; and there have been 24 goals scored in the month of September by Manchester City. In six games, Man City has tallied an average of four goals per contest en route to winning each one. More impressively, over the course of those six games, the Citizens have conceded only one goal.
While this streak is undeniably noteworthy, Man City has yet to play a full-strength top-six side from last season in those games — their match against Liverpool featured a questionable red card against star Sadio Mané in the middle of the first half.
Enter this Saturday. Last season’s Premier League champions, Chelsea, host red-hot Man City in a contest that could have long-term implications in the league: Chelsea has won seven of its last eight contests and currently sits in third place in the league.
Regardless of Saturday’s result, however, is the truth behind the strength of the Citizens. They have assembled their team almost exclusively through buying other team’s players, all thanks to the funding of Sheikh Mansour. After winning the league in 2012 and 2014, Man City has seen a huge drop-off in their success. While they are regular Champions League seemed destined for a rise to absolute stardom and dominance.
Of course, many of their problems stemmed from their defensive woes — woes that dropped them out of title contention last season. This past transfer window, Man City did what they often do: spend. They acquired several defenders and defensive-minded midfielders for a total of nearly £210 million.
As is tradition with Man City, many pundits questioned whether or not these moves would truly fix longtime defensive issues or just patch up problems with big names. Six games are hardly an indicator of success — and the Chelsea game could very well dampen the fires — but Manchester City has arrived.
It is unheard of to call the Premier League title race this early in the season, but Man City has the tools and, most importantly, depth to continue their streak. Furthermore, their challenges in the Champions League group stage are nonexistent, so the fitness of their top players — Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva — should be sorted.
But while Man City has improved itself dramatically — Gabriel Jesus comes to mind here —it frequently loses steam after Christmas, much like the inevitable midseason form drop that Arsenal experiences. Defensively, Man City still does not have the same firepower as Chelsea, and Manchester United is more than capable of outscoring its fiercest rival. While Man City will likely finish in the top four, it remains quite possible that the team will inexplicably fall apart once more.