Manchester City’s Premier League title defence appears over before Christmas, with Pep Guardiola’s men travelling to Arsenal today already 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool.
City have made the extraordinary routine, winning five of the past six major domestic trophies in England but have dropped as many points in 16 league games this season as in the whole of last season.
So what has gone wrong for a hugely talented and expensive squad under the tutelage of one of football’s greatest coaches?
Even a squad as rich in resources as City’s is not immune to injuries.
Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte suffered long-term knee injuries in the first few weeks of the season, with Laporte’s absence leaving a gaping hole at the heart of City’s defence.
Guardiola’s men re-wrote the history books by registering a century of points for the first time in the English top flight in 2017/18 and backed that up with 98 last season.
Liverpool’s tally of 97 was the third highest ever and yet still not enough to end the wait for a first league title on Merseyside since 1989/90.
In most other seasons, City’s return of 32 points from their opening 16 games would at least be enough to keep them in the running.
However, they have raised the bar and Liverpool have risen to the challenge. A relentless run of 15 wins and one draw from the European champions has seen them disappear over the horizon and surely out of reach.