If Manchester City are to stand any chance at all of claiming a third Premier League title then they’ll need to do so by maintaining their status as flat-track bullies.
The Sky Blues’ 3-0 defeat by Liverpool was their third consecutive Premier League loss, marking their first triple defeat on the bounce for over seven years.
City have always had a reputation as only winning the easily winnable games. And now statistics can back that up.
In games played against the Premier League’s top eight, City have collected just three points from a possible 33. Manuel Pellegrini’s team have failed to win a single game among those clubs, with three draws and eight defeats in those 11 games.
Despite their dismal record against the high-flyers, however, City boast a superb record against the Premier League’s lesser lights.
Against teams ninth or lower, the Sky Blues have taken 44 points from a possible 48, winning 14 and drawing two of those 16 fixtures in the process.
While City have scored 40 goals against those teams placed ninth or lower, at an average of 2.5 goals per game, against sides in the top eight they’ve mustered just eight goals in 11 meetings at a rate of 0.7 per game.
The Sky Blues have also shipped 22 in 11 games against the Premier League’s elite top eight (an average of two a game) compared with conceding just seven in 16 games against those 9th-20th at a rate of 0.4 per game.
Manchester City fans should not be too downhearted. They needn’t look far for an example of a Premier League title-winning flat-track bully team.
A cornerstone of Sir Alex Ferguson’s success at Manchester United was his team’s ability to win games week in, week out against those sides lower down the division.
While they also won their fair share of encounters against the top eight, it was United’s consistentency against the Premier League’s other teams that helped them edge out the likes of Arsenal in 1998-99 and Liverpool in 2008-09 to claim two of their titles.
Manchester City have just three games remaining against teams in the top eight, with all three fixtures at the Etihad.
With a further eight games due against teams outside of the top eight, if Pellegrini wants to leave the Etihad on a high note, he may yet follow Ferguson’s lead.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.