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Mid-season review: Title contenders... part II

Tuesday 3rd January 2017
In part I of this article we reviewed the 3 teams who went into the New Year in the top 3, and here we will have a look at the other title contenders that finished last year below the top 3 places on the log.

4 - Manchester City

Pep Guardiola enjoyed a brilliant start to his reign as City's boss. He led his team to 10 successive victories in all competitions but since then the Sky Blues haven't really been at their best.

The season hasn't been a poor one for The Citizens, but after spending £100m+ in the summer, City fans will feel their side have underperformed.

Guardiola teams always pride themselves in being able to play out from the back but the City defence does not seem to be very comfortable doing that and with the way Guardiola has set up his team to play, a couple stray passes could lead to a scoring opportunity for opposing teams.

Also, the former Bayern Munich manager has tinkered a lot with his lineups which suggests he doesn't know his best team at the moment - hardly the hallmarks of champions.
The Spaniard has come out to defend himself saying "all managers need time."

Yes, managers do need time but if City are hoping to win the league this season Guardiola will have to find some consistency in his team selections and try to instil some confidence to what has been a more than shaky back line.

5 - Tottenham

This season was shaping up to be a very pleasant one for Spurs fans who saw their team come close to winning the Premier League title last term.

The Lily Whites were going to be playing in the Champions League and were able to keep all of their players from the clutches of the so-called European heavyweights.

Spurs' Champions League endeavours had a negative impact on their title aspirations even if they weren't playing well in it.

However, they were undefeated in their first 12 league games - sounds impressive right? What's not so impressive is the 6 draws that made up that run.

The injury to Kane certainly didn't help matters with Tottenham scoring just twice in the five games the England international missed.

Mauricio Pochettino's men failed to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League and will settle for a place in the round of 32 in the Europa League after finishing third in their group.

Spurs Champions League exit has looked a blessing in disguise as they have won 6 of the 8 games they have played since they were dumped out.
Tottenham have a strong back line that have let in just 15 goals all season long and if they continue to score as they have been in recent weeks, they will surely be a disturbance to those above them in the league standings.

6 - Manchester United

Manchester United splashed the cash in the summer transfer window and would have fancied their chances of winning the Premier League title for the first time since 2013.

The season started well for the Red Devils with four wins in four games but after that run of victories, they began to falter.

Premier League teams tend to find it difficult to maintain good results and performances in both the Europa League and Premier League and United have also struggled in that respect.

One could point to the fact that ever since United have won every single league game since they guaranteed their place in the last 32 of the Europa League as proof.
United boss, Jose Mourinho sounded confident about his charges still being able to win the title when he spoke to local media back in November. These were his words:

"When I won the title 18 years - sorry 18 months ago- I had the same points as Man City.

"We lost 10 points in one month. I think it was the end of December or the of January and we'd lost 10 points"

"Then we recovered and won that title 18 years - sorry 18 months ago - you can recover points. Others can lose points"

Mourinho made that statement when Chelsea were 9 points above the Red Devils but at this present moment, United could find themselves 10 points behind the Blues, who also have a game in hand.

While The Old Trafford club have looked championship material in recent weeks, the margin between them and Chelsea might just be too great to close and I feel a top four finish is a more realistic target for United.
Adoyi Joshua Adoyi

Adoyi is a Nigerian with a keen passion for sports  - more so football and is an avid supporter of Manchester United. He spends his weekends glued to his TV screen, watching the beautiful game.

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