PETER CROUCH: City will be Invincible if Klopp’s boys can’t beat them

Manchester City will be Invincible if Jurgen Klopp’s boys can’t beat them… and Tottenham can still maintain their progress despite recent troubles

  • The more I watch Manchester City, the more I think they will be Invincibles 
  • That Arsenal team, 15 years ago, were the best side I ever played against
  • City are scaling similar heights and the win over Tottenham should be a warning
  • Spurs can still maintain their significant progress, despite recent troubles
  • It meant so much Glenn Hoddle telling me he wanted me back at Tottenham

Peter Crouch is a columnist for Sportsmail

Peter Crouch is a columnist for Sportsmail

The more I watch Manchester City, the more I believe they will emulate Arsenal’s Invincibles.

It shouldn’t happen in the Premier League. Not now. Not with the resources that clubs have and the strengths of the squads they possess. The game here is ferocious and competitive and that should stop any team going through the season unbeaten.

Arsenal, 15 years ago, were the best team I ever played against. I was at Aston Villa that season and remember the night we played them at Villa Park. Thierry Henry scored twice and they played a brand of football I had never seen.

City, though, are scaling similar heights. You may say it is a big call to make after 10 matches of the campaign but the way they beat Tottenham should serve as a warning to everybody else — if you thought they were good last year, I’m convinced they have improved.

Monday’s win at Wembley was all the evidence you need.

Tottenham were never really given the slightest opportunity to turn up the pressure. They had a couple of promising moments — the kind that City were vulnerable to last season — but this time City just closed the game out with ruthless efficiency.

A theme is developing here. They have allowed teams to have 59 shots at them so far in 10 matches, 17 of which have been on target. Since the inception of the Premier League, only Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side of 2004-05 boast a lower goals-against record after 10 games than City’s tally of three. If teams can’t get near them, how can they beat them?

You associate title winners with having a period when they have to chisel out draws but it just feels at the minute that City are going to steamroller the vast majority of the teams they face.

What also makes me think they will go unbeaten is the strength they have in depth. I know Kevin De Bruyne is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines — they will, of course, miss someone of that ability — but when Pep Guardiola can afford to leave Leroy Sane out, it shows where they are.

Look at Riyad Mahrez.

When City signed him from Leicester, I struggled to see how he would fit in but he has now forced his way firmly into the starting line-up and is making a difference. Trust me, the level of competition and the desire for places is only going to make everyone up their levels.

The more I watch Manchester City, the more I believe they will emulate Arsenal’s Invincibles

The more I watch Manchester City, the more I believe they will emulate Arsenal’s Invincibles

It’s frightening to think they can get better. City have played 27 times in the Premier League so far in 2018 and won 21 of those fixtures, taking 67 points from a possible 81. The consistency is remarkable and it comes as a surprise now if anyone contains them.

This is where they are different to the Arsenal squad of 2003-04. I am not trying to say one is better than the other, I’m merely pointing out that Arsenal had 12 draws that year and I don’t see City having another 10 assignments where they are going to drop points. They don’t have a weakness.

Really, there is only one match that I could see them losing — that’s the return fixture against Liverpool on January 3.

I know Chelsea look strong but I think Jurgen Klopp’s squad are the only threat to City in the title race but if they negotiate that 90 minutes unscathed, who is going to stop them?

I hope Liverpool can make a proper race of it. They are a fabulous team and also have the capability to go through the season unbeaten — just imagine if the fixture at the Etihad was a draw and that actually happened — but it is going to be really difficult for them to keep pace.

Really, there is only one match that I could see City losing now - against Liverpool in January

Really, there is only one match that I could see City losing now – against Liverpool in January

What has happened in the calendar year only serves to show the full extent of the challenge. Liverpool have been brilliant in 2018 but in 27 matches, they have taken seven points fewer than City. The pace Guardiola is setting is like nothing I have ever seen.

At this rate, it is a certainty they will win more than one trophy but I don’t see them completing a domestic clean sweep — I don’t think that will ever be done.

No matter how good the team are, someone, somewhere always pops up and causes a surprise, just as Wigan did last season.

Can they win in Europe? Again, I’m not too sure. One of my uncles is a season-ticket holder and it is all about winning the Premier League for him. He, like so many other City fans, doesn’t have a connection with the Champions League and I don’t see the desire from the terraces to conquer Europe.

But in terms of doing it at home? That is now beyond question. The first 10 games of the season have indicated that City are primed to do something special. If they follow up their 100 points tally by going unbeaten, they will go down in history as one of the all-time greats.

We should have achieved more . . . but this Spurs can

There has been a lot written and said about Tottenham since a fierce debate between Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on Monday.

As someone who played for Tottenham during an era Gary referenced, I feel I am in a good position to offer an opinion.

I can understand why Harry Redknapp, our manager at the time, is furious but I can also see the reason why Gary said what he did.

We had some great players when I was at White Hart Lane and we had some fantastic times. Harry did a brilliant job taking us from bottom of the Premier League to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in two years. What we could not do, though, was make the last big step.

We had a reputation for losing games that mattered and the 2010 FA Cup semi-final against Portsmouth is a prime example. It still grates with me that we lost that game at Wembley.

We had some great players when I was at White Hart Lane and we had some fantastic times

We had some great players when I was at White Hart Lane and we had some fantastic times

When you think we had players such as Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe, Ledley King and Rafael van der Vaart, we should really have achieved something more but the criticism went overboard to say the past 30 years had been ‘pathetic’.

I am in agreement with Gary, however, on the fact that this Tottenham squad are well placed to maintain their progress. I said in my first column of the season that even without signing a player I expected them to finish in the top four and I will reiterate that now.

The starting line-up is full of quality, the manager is outstanding and times have changed: they are not selling their best players to finance future deals.

All they need is a little bit more help in the transfer market and they will get there. People say they need to win a trophy but so did we: it is easier said than done. Getting that first piece of silverware is a huge thing. They are so close. Nobody needs to lose heart.

It meant so much Glenn telling me he wanted me

When I think about Glenn Hoddle, a few things come to mind. The first revolves around my dad taking me to watch Chelsea when I was a kid and specifically telling me to focus on him.

Glenn was 36 when he came to the club as player-manager and watching him in the role of sweeper was a privilege.

You could see with the supreme way he passed the ball with both feet why many referred to him as the most gifted player of his generation.

The second thing I think about is a pre-season back in 2001, not long after I had joined Portsmouth. Glenn had not long been manager of Tottenham and we beat them 2-0 at Fratton Park. I scored both goals and it was sweet, given they sold me 18 months earlier.

When I think about Glenn Hoddle, a few things come to mind. The first revolves around my dad taking me to watch Chelsea

When I think about Glenn Hoddle, a few things come to mind. The first revolves around my dad taking me to watch Chelsea

Afterwards Glenn stopped me in the tunnel and said: ‘I can’t believe they let you go — it wouldn’t have happened if I had been here then.’

Talk about a gee up. He didn’t have to say that to me but it meant the world. So to hear that he had taken seriously ill was awful. I have always got on well with him — we really got to know each other during a golfing trip to Singapore some years ago — and it goes without saying that I’m praying he makes a full recovery.

Last Saturday turned out to be a particularly grim day. Events at Leicester later that night were horrific and I could not write this column without expressing my deepest condolences. The scale of the mourning for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha shows his legacy will never be forgotten.


Next up for me…

It’s a reunion on Saturday afternoon with Tony Pulis, as he brings his Middlesbrough side to the Bet365 Stadium. I know Tony can divide opinion but, personally, I can’t speak highly enough of him. The way he treated me in the years I played for him was first class.

Who’s caught my eye… Ross Barkley 

I was worried he may have been one of those players that ended up getting lost but he has come back fighting. He has left the problems of last season’s injury worries behind and looks like a key member of Chelsea’s team now.

What I’m listening to…

The old ones are the best, so they say, and I’ve had no reason to dispute that this week. Richard Ashcroft is an all-time favourite of mine, going back to the days of The Verve’s Urban Hymns album and I’ve had his latest offering Natural Rebel on this week.

What I’ve been up to…

It’s been a good week and it all started with a very important win away at Bristol City. I hope it proves to be a result that sees us go on a run now. No midweek game meant I had a day off and I chose to play golf.

Halfway around the course, while I was shivering in my short sleeves, I realised the weather has now truly turned! 

It was fascinating to watch the Carabao Cup tie between Chelsea and Derby on Wednesday, not least because of the ovation Frank Lampard was given.

Of course, it was always going to be emotional for him to return to Stamford Bridge. He won everything there is to win with Chelsea, he’s the club’s all-time leading scorer and the word legend perfectly describes his standing with supporters.

But I couldn’t help think about the difference between the reception he received compared to the way Jose Mourinho was treated a few weeks earlier. I know he manages Manchester United now and I know he is a figure that people love to hate but he is also a Chelsea legend.

The difference between Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho's returns to Chelsea was stark

The difference between Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho’s returns to Chelsea was stark

This is the man who won three league titles and helped turn Chelsea into the club they are today. What he was confronted with when he came back to London recently seemed disappointing for a man who achieved so much there.

I hope one day in the future — maybe when he has moved on from Old Trafford — that Mourinho will again be viewed by Chelsea fans in the way they regard Lampard.

There needs to be recognition for what he has done. 

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