Man City have some difficult fixtures between now and Christmas, when a hectic schedule could hurt such a high-energy side. Their eight-point lead could disintegrate over the next few months...
"Things look very rosy for Manchester City right now, but the early parts of the campaign were always likely to be the most fruitful for such a high-energy side. As the fixtures get tougher and the games get closer together, Guardiola’s lead at the top of the table could be significantly reduced. "
With Manchester City tearing through opponent after opponent it is difficult not to conclude that the 2017/18 Premier League title has already been won by Pep Guardiola's team, particularly after a weekend in which all of their rivals made their own vulnerabilities abundantly clear.
Chelsea's lack of depth amid Antonio Conte's grumbling threatened to bubble to the surface at Stamford Bridge before Alvaro Morata's goal settled their nerves, Manchester United once again failed to hit the back of the net, and Tottenham Hotspur looked familiarly stodgy against a bottom-half club at Wembley.
No team in the Premier League era has been so many points clear at the top after 11 matches; the cushion Man City currently enjoy.
Absurd to crown City champions so soon
But we football fans are incredibly short sighted. From the decreasing length of the average managerial stint to the fickleness of our predictions, we tend to declare overarching patterns far too early - which is precisely what has happened after City broke eight points clear on Sunday afternoon. With 27 games - 81 points - left to play for it is absurd to suggest City have already sealed the title, or to assume the dynamic won't change dramatically in the months ahead.
For starters history isn't necessarily on City's side. United let a 16 point lead slip in the spring of 1993/94 to bring Blackburn Rovers back on level terms with Alex Ferguson's team, Newcastle United famously held a 12-point advantage over Man United in 1995/96 only to finish second, and as recently as 2010/11 Ferguson's side lost an eight-point lead over the final 10 matches of the season.
Why, then, is everyone so convinced Man City are invulnerable?
Tiredness to play a role?
Guardiola's high-intensity football can be punishing, and not unlike Mauricio Pochettino has found at Spurs this could easily lead to a slow down as the season wears on. Tired limbs could see those goals dry up and confidence drain, at which point City's defensive problems might just resurface.
Certainly this is what Jose Mourinho is banking on; he will expect his powerful but conservative United side to gradually grind out results while City run themselves into the ground.
We might not have to wait until 2018 to see this take effect. City may have already beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Liverpool at the Etihad this season, but by and large their fixtures have been deceptively simple.
Things are about to get a lot harder
City's first match after the international break is a trip to Leicester City, who already look more defensively assured under Claude Puel and know exactly how to beat a Guardiola team.
Their 4-2 victory over Man City in December last year was textbook Leicester, revolving around quick balls in behind City's high line for Jamie Vardy to chase. The league leaders have improved dramatically since then, but against Vardy's pace those old problems could re-emerge.
Next up is another away match at Huddersfield Town, a team who have lost just once at home this season and recently beat Man United 2-1 at the John Smith's stadium. Some simpler matches follow but among the next five league games prior to December 23 is a trip to Old Trafford and a home game against Spurs.
Judging by the difficulty of their upcoming fixtures, it is definitely plausible that City will have dropped a few points and lost a bit of confidence before the gruelling Christmas schedule begins.
It is worth noting that Guardiola hasn't yet experienced a proper English winter. The fixtures fell kindly last winter because Christmas was on the weekend, meaning City's worst run was three games in eight days, but this year will see Guardiola's side play four times in 11 days. The extra League Cup match also means they play twice more in the month of December than in 2016/17.
Things look very rosy for City right now, but the early parts of the campaign were always likely to be the most fruitful for such a high-energy side. As the fixtures get tougher and the games get closer together, Guardiola's lead at the top of the table could be significantly reduced, which means laying them to win the title now at [1.22] makes sense.
It's no wonder Mourinho, who knows how to handle the rigours of English football better than anyone, doesn't seem as concerned as the rest of us. He knows what's coming.