Winter is coming: rest of the league should beware as Man City enter a prolific period

Traditionally, City have bloomed as autumn bleeds into winter, winning 66 matches and drawing eight over a five-year period from November to March

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Pep Guardiola has spent the November international break recharging his batteries, and that can only spell danger for the rest of the Premier League.

Following the facile 2-0 away win over United in the Manchester derby, the City manager waved goodbye to no fewer than 22 players as they dispersed globally for the final intermission of 2021.

Guardiola spent a portion of his time off in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where he met informally with chairman Khaldoon Mubarak and then visited the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Post the November hiatus is habitually a happy hunting ground for City, who traditionally tend to bloom as autumn bleeds into winter. Their recent five-year record between now and the next international break is intimidating.

In their first game back from the last break in the 2015/16 season, City defeated Crystal Palace away 2-1 and a year later they got the better of Leicester City, also on the road, 2-0. That was the first of nine consecutive Premier League wins that ended with a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve.

The 2018/19 campaign saw them return from two weeks away from the domestic league to defeat West Ham United 4-0. Twelve months later City beat Chelsea 2-1.

Last season's concertinaed schedule meant that dates were shuffled around but Guardiola’s men came back from a 13-day November stoppage with a rare 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.

Manchester derby ratings

It was a result that led to much soul-searching amongst the squad and lit the blue touchpaper on an amazing unbeaten run that saw them amass 16 wins and two draws between November 21 and March 7. In that spell they won 13 in succession and broke the spirit of the chasing pack as they went on to seal a third Premier League crown in five years.

From 2016 to 2020 in the November to March segment of the season, Guardiola’s troops played 89 times in the Premier League and won 66 matches and drew eight, giving them the utmost confidence that they can surge again as they bid for back-to-back crowns.

City’s most recent win, over neighbours United, lifted them into second place in the table three points behind leaders Chelsea who they have already beaten at Stamford Bridge this season.

They resume the campaign at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday against an Everton side currently languishing in 11th. They then take on this season’s surprise package, West Ham United, at home. The Hammers recently ended City’s lengthy domination of the League Cup when they knocked them out of this year’s competition 1-0 at the London Stadium.

West Ham v Man City ratings

Sandwiched between those next two home games in the Premier League, City face French champions Paris Saint-Germain, also at the Etihad, as they aim for the Champions League victory that would see them finish top of Group A. They need just a point to see them through to the knockout stages for the ninth season in succession - the post November break has also been kind to them in that competition.

As Guardiola, who is already the manager with most wins in City history at 227 and counting, swaps his civvies for his tracksuit, he will just be hoping that the 22 players who flew out to represent 10 countries in World Cup qualifiers this past two weeks, all return home injury free for what is always a frenetic and congested part of the English season.

England Under 21 starlet Cole Palmer and senior international Jack Grealish both picked up knocks in the early part of the break and, like all managers, Guardiola will be hoping for no more bad news.

City have 12 matches to squeeze in between November 21 and January 1, a period that will shape the Premier League season for the rest of the campaign.

Updated: November 16, 2021, 7:56 AM