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The Premier League title is Manchester City's to lose

After Chelsea could only draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night, Manchester City won 1-0 at Brentford to open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

And that margin should really make it game over for the title race, even if Pep Guardiola protested to the contrary after his side's victory at the Brentford Community Stadium.

It's been quite some turnaround in the last month.

City weren't even top at the start of December, but their run of 10 straight league wins has taken them to the summit and has seemingly burned off the challenges of Chelsea and Liverpool, who have been affected by injuries, COVID-19 and patchy results.

"I'm not going to believe anyone who says it's already done," Guardiola said.

"The teams we have with Chelsea and Liverpool are more than exceptional.

"We have the distance not because they dropped points but because we won ten in a row.

"We won the game, we are on a good run, but it's the end of December.

"There are many games to go. We are eight points in front but there are 54 still to play for and many tough games still to play."

City's narrow win at Brentford was the exception to the rule in recent weeks with Guardiola's men in devastating attacking form, scoring seven against Leeds United, four against Newcastle United and six against Leicester City.

Those who said City wouldn't score goals without a number nine seem to have gone rather quiet.

And it's not exactly leaky at the back either, with City keeping four clean sheets in their last five league outings.

Some people point to City's squad depth making them the most durable of the contenders, but Liverpool and Chelsea have comparable depth.

City's strengths

It seems perhaps more about playing style, in two ways.

Firstly, City have such dominance of the ball that they almost always control games, meaning that they dictate the pace and flow.

This in turn means they can rest while in possession, and it means their defence are generally tested less.

Secondly, everyone at City knows their role and the tasks expected of them.

This means that academy youngsters such as Cole Palmer can step up without almost any time required for transition, giving Guardiola more options from the bench and more opportunity to manage the minutes of first-teamers without a huge drop-off in quality.

City face Arsenal and Chelsea in the first half of January.

If they come out on top in those matches, then the title really does look sewn up.

It would also represent Guardiola's fourth league title in the last five seasons at City, further cementing him as one of the best - and of course, most transformative - coaches England has ever seen.

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