Next in the mid-year Premier League reviews comes Manchester City. And there is no side harder to get your head around than them, but Alistair Banks gives it a go.
16 games into season 2013-14 and Manchester City sit 3rd.
If I’d been told that at the start of the season I’d have been worried, but such is the quality of football they have played at times, I have no doubt they will move up the table and challenge Arsenal for the title. Currently City are the most Jekyll and Hyde home and away team I can remember. 35 goals in 8 home games including sumptuous thumpings of Manchester United 4-1 and Spurs 6-0, and just last night a 6-3 pantsing of leaders Arsenal, have been levelled out by losses away to relegation candidates Cardiff and Sunderland (again!). At one stage the 1-0 at the Reebok was sandwiched between 7-0 and 6-0 home thumpings.
Recent away form has shown signs of improvement with a, more comfortable than it sounds, 3-2 win at West Brom, a 1-1 draw with a quality Southampton side, and a fantastic Champions league win at Bayern Munich.
Pre-season worries about City’s defence have come true to an extent, especially with cornerstone VIncent Kompany missing in action for much of the season. Only 6 clean sheets in 14 games is a concern. It was pleasing to see Pellegrini have the cojones to drop error-ridden goalie Joe Hart. The England No 1 had been directly responsible for dropping 4 points in away losses to Villa and Chelsea. Hart’s habit of charging out of his box was getting old quick. Since his demotion, Romanian giant Costel Pantilimon has more than held his own. Hart however is too big a name to sit on the bench for too long. First choice centre back pairing Kompany and Nastasic have barely played together. Hopefully when they are more settled and healthy, the leaks will be plugged.
City’s new signings have all become integral parts of the City side. Alvaro ‘The Beast’ Negredo has developed a superb partnership with Aguero and the goals have flowed. The speed of winger Jesus Navas has given City the width they lacked last year in attack and has allowed Silva and Nasri more space to create and carve up opposing defences. Fernandinho has added some steel to the midfield and allowed Yaya Toure to power forward and terrorise sides with his strength and touch. His 8 goals in 16 games from midfield speak volumes.
City are on pace to break Chelsea’s record of goals in a season at their current pace of 3 goals a game. This will be scant consolation if they don’t win the title. Hopefully improved away form will see them move up the table and clear of the field in what is the most exciting and unpredictable Premier League season in my memory. Even if this doesn’t happen, the end of season DVD will be one hell of a watch!
Follow Alistair on Twitter