Manchester City is having another strong year and is very much a title contender as we reach the midway point of the season. Despite the best efforts of Arsenal and Manchester United in addition to the sudden resurgence of Leicester City, Manchester City remains the odds-on favourite to take the Premier League title this year. However, the team still needs to do more if it hopes to secure the ever-elusive Champions League trophy.
The Citizens have continued to play well in spite of a slew of injuries that has seen some of the team’s best players sitting on the sidelines including striker Sergio Agüero, midfielder Yaya Touré, and centre back Vincent Kompany. Thankfully, Touré is set to return after missing out on the team’s shocking loss to Stoke City, though Agüero and Kompany will require more time to recover from foot and calf injuries, respectively.
It’s more than just injuries plaguing the Citizens, as age and fatigue are also factors. The age of City’s defence showed in the team’s game against Stoke City. Except Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, all of Manchester City’s defensive players are on the wrong side of 30. That fact is becoming more and more apparent in their ability to chase down attacking players. Kompany is only 29, but he turns 30 in April. With his recent string of injuries, there are questions as to whether the captain can return to form following his recovery.
After the team’s loss against Stoke, former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports that the defenders were showing their age against a younger, faster squad.
“The centre-backs were very poor on the day as well, especially [Martin] Demichelis,” Carragher said.
“And for his age, I am talking about ‘can’t run’. This is always a tell-tell sign of a player like Demichelis that when you get to the age, he is, which is 34, you drop deeper. We’ve all done it.”
Both of the team’s younger defensive signings have failed to develop as expected, which has many looking at the team to seek new defenders as soon as possible. If the team can manage to reinforce its defence and find a reliable striker that can act as a capable substitute for the injured Agüero, the sky could be the limit for the Sky Blues. To that end, they remain the favourites to win the Premier League title this year with 13/8 odds, according to Betfair’s Premier League section. The site has Arsenal and Manchester United right behind the Citizens, whose chances may wane in the coming weeks if the injury woes continue to persist. Because unless the team can become healthy, the next few matches are looking tough.
Driving that point home is ESPN’s FC section, who report that manager Manuel Pellegrini has said that the problem lies with a large number of injured players as opposed to one or two missing pieces.
“We don’t have a priority to get any one player back in the team in particular — we have five or six key injuries and I don’t think we will have any of them back this week,” Pellegrini said.
Provided the team can sort out its injury situation and add some much-needed depth during the winter transfer window, anything is possible. Manchester City still has more than enough superstars around to make things happen this season.