For a while it seemed that Chelsea would run away with their fourth Premier League title with Manchester City as their only serious competition for the crown.
Yet now the reigning champions lie four points adrift of their local rivals, Manchester United, who occupy third place above them.
Champions League finish probable
Brendan Rogers claimed this week that Liverpool can still finish in the top four, but City do hold the mathematical advantage.
Whilst the Citizens are four off United, they also have a comfortable gap of four points between themselves and Liverpool in the dreaded fifth place.
City is a team full of winners, world-class talent and pedigree. The names Agüero, Touré and Bony still strike fear into defenders’ hearts, but attack does not seem to be where the problem lies.
Kompany to blame
Manchester City, while still scoring regularly (think back to a 5-0 win over Newcastle on 24 Feb) have leaked goals against supposedly inferior teams.
They conceded at Turf Moor, home of a Burnley side whose form has been desperate. They conceded two away at Crystal Palace and let in a shocking four goals against rivals United, a game that should have double meaning for the players.
At the heart of City’s abject defence is Vincent Kompany, so often lauded last season for his courageous defence and inspiring leadership. Of late however, he has been horribly exposed, at fault for several goals, and has not stepped up to drag the team’s mentality up from the gutter.
Blessing in disguise
At the beginning of the season, this statement would have seemed ridiculous: Manchester City are better off without their talismanic captain in the final push of the season. Subbed off at halftime in the derby, Kompany may well miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury.
With Kompany out, the impetus is on the other senior players to rally round, harbour a positive team spirit and fight until the bitter end this season. Now they have the chance to save City’s season; fourth place is certainly no trophy, but finishing fifth would be a disaster.