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Pep Guardiola remains realistic about Manchester City's title chances

Pep Guardiola has been able to mix and match his players comfortably this season.

Leave it to Pep Guardiola to dampen enthusiasm by reminding everyone that this time last year, Manchester City were doing even better than they are now. They had two more points in the table and had arguably played a tougher schedule, winning away to Manchester United. We know how things ended up (third place, 15 points behind champions), so maybe he's right not to get carried away. And yet, it's hard not to when you see performances like the 5-0 hammering of Crystal Palace.

It's not just the goals or the ease with which they seemingly created clear-cut chances with one or two passes or movements. What's perhaps most impressive is the way Guardiola can so comfortably mix and match his attacking players based on the circumstances. Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Bernardo Silva: That's seven legitimate A-listers (eight, if you want to throw in Yaya Toure, whom we haven't seen much of yet) that are almost entirely interchangeable based on the opposition and what you want to do.

What can stop them? Maybe what stopped them last year: the defensive side of the game. If Vincent Kompany's not fit and Eliaquim Mangala reverts to being the guy we saw two years ago, that's a lot of strain for the Nicolas Otamendi-John Stones partnership to carry. And, equally, just how good Ederson is -- and by good, I mean not just better than Claudio Bravo a year ago -- has yet to be determined.

Maybe we'll find out as early as next week when they travel to face Chelsea.

Click here to read more of Marcotti's thoughts on what occurred in European football over the previous week.

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