This season in the Premier League is set to go down in history as the most exciting ever. Not only do we have a good ol’ fashioned relegation scrap that looks like involving 11 teams, but the top seven are all still in with a shout of winning the title, being separated by just 11 points. Who are you calling a mid-table club?
With there undoubtedly set to be many more twists and turns between now and May, we have decided to assess the chances of all seven teams who realistically could still lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season. One thing’s for sure: it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.
This article looks at what Manchester City need to do if they want to be carved on to the trophy as Premier League Champions 2014.
After the Abu Dhabi United Group bought Manchester City in 2008, the landscape of English football was to be thrown upside down. Having seen Chelsea’s rise to prominence following Roman Abramovich’s arrival, a new oligarch was in town to create a new superpower. And it worked.
Pipping rivals Manchester United in the last minute of the 2011-12 season to claim their first title was not only an unbelievable moment, but also truly announced the club as serious contenders.
Whilst they couldn’t quite follow that up in the second season, a change in management has seen the somewhat vociferous Roberto Mancini replaced by the calming Manuel Pellegrini. He looks to have improved the mood in the camp, where a few new signings and a ‘play to the final whistle’ attitude has seen Manchester City installed as favourites to recapture their title. Based on recent form, it would be wise to follow the bookies’ advice.
Where do I start? Manchester City’s envious array of talent is formidable, boasting arguably the strongest strength in depth in world football. Sergio Aguero remains the jewel in the crown that is up there with the best strikers in world football, whilst Alvaro Negredo has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and Edin Dzeko benefits from the rotation induced by their assault for the quadruple, staking a claim that would surely seem him as a starter at any other club in the world.
The fact that summer signing Steven Jovetic is fourth choice (albeit injury has played a part in that) shows what fantastic options the manager has at his disposal.
But it doesn’t stop at their front line, as the Citizens boast a world-class midfield too. David Silva continues to shine with his excellent technique and creativity; compatriot Jesus Navas lightening pace has caused problems; Samir Nasri is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence under the Chilean manager, having his best season in years and James Milner’s consistency has gone up a level, regularly performing to an even higher standard than simple reliability.
Meanwhile, Yaya Toure’s powerful displays bring back memories of Patrick Vieira, yet he also boasts an undeniable attacking threat. Fernandinho seems to have settled in the league after a shaky start with some impressive displays.
Any defence with Vincent Kompany will be one to be reckoned with, alongside a maturing Matija Nastasic and flanked by the likes of Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov, whilst Joe Hart appears to have returned to top form after a brief wobble saw him dropped for a few games.
So, in short, Manchester City’s team is frickin’ awesome.
But we all know that incredible players don’t necessarily create an incredible team. Yet Manchester City have certainly looked the part this season; particularly at home, where scoring five or six goals seems to have become a common theme.
In their 20 games since the start of November, City have smashed in four or more goals in eight of those games, including hitting five past CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, six past Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham and seven against Norwich.
The threat that they carry when attacking is on a par with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and certainly far greater than any of their Premier League rivals. If this continues, there is surely no way to stop them.
How to win the title.
You may be forgiven for thinking that, despite how close the league currently is, Manchester City winning is somewhat of a foregone conclusion. Yet whilst the odds are certainly stacked in their favour, there are still a couple of adjustments that could be made to ensure that they can sprint to the title without needing to worry too much about their rivals.
The first thing for Pellegrini is to address their away form. Despite their domination at the Etihad, losses at Cardiff, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland, along with draws at both Stoke and Southampton, have threatened to derail their season.
Champions need to make their home a fortress, yet it is still vital to pick up points on the road to ensure that they can stay in the title race come May. This does seem to have improved in recent weeks, however, with three consecutive league victories on the road – yet Pellegrini will want to ensure that their travels gain consistency throughout the rest of the season.
Fortunately for City, Hart seems to have recovered from his early season struggles to re-stake his claim as one of the best in the world. Yet in front of him, Manchester City could really do with another top class centre-back to help ease any defensive concerns. Whilst Kompany remains a class act, he has struggled so far with injuries and, without him in the heart of defence, there is an opportunity for opposition strikers to exploit.
Nastasic is still young so cannot be relied upon too heavily, whilst Martin Demichelis isn’t convincing and Joleon Lescott is seemingly unfancied by the Chilean. City don’t realistically need to make any adjustments in this transfer window in any other position, so Pellegrini can focus upon a centre-back as his number one priority, unless he decides to risk waiting until the summer.
Another youngster would be good, such as Kurt Zouma and Eliaquim Mangala who have both been linked, yet it may also help to have a slightly older and more experienced man to lead the backline in Kompany’s absence.
Whether City can keep up with this formidable pace that they are currently showing is to be questioned, but you can be sure that they will be there or thereabouts when the Premier League reaches its climax in May.
Arguably, it is City’s title to lose, and thus if they can keep stars such as Kompany, Toure, Silva and Aguero fit and firing, along with the possible addition of another centre-back, there is no reason for City to not be reclaiming their second Premier League title.
Prediction: 1st – with the strength in depth that they possess, along with the unbelievable fire power, it is City’s title to lose and it’s difficult to look past them steamrolling to the title.
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