Monday, 2 January 2012

Are City Great Pretenders or the real deal?

As Roberto Mancini’s men fail to capitalise on United’s slip as their title aspirations are assessed at the midway point of the season.

After the dramatic scenes at Old Trafford on Saturday, which saw Steve Kean’s youngsters, leave with all three points, surely it was advantage City as they lined up against a depleted Sunderland on New Year’s day.

Over the last few weeks City’s lead at the top has been cut down, to only goal difference and United were quickly making headway on the front with consecutive 5-0 victory’s.  Against the odds things did not go to plan on Saturday, but at 5pm on Sunday Fergie’s New Year’s day took a turn for the better.

A trip to the Stadium of Light was always going to be a tough game for Mancini and considering they have a tricky game against Liverpool on Tuesday he started with Silva and Aguero on the bench.

Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko were given a chance to stake a claim for a place in the first XI in what is going to be a crucial 2012 for everyone involved with the blue half of Manchester.

For all of their dominance, they were unable to breakdown a robust and determined Sunderland backline which was brilliantly marshalled by Lee Cattermole and John O’Shea. The ferocity of the challenges was proof in itself, that the home side wanted it more, the vast majority of the men in sky blue were left wanting.

Edin Dzeko 
Dzeko was poor and he has not backed up his early season form at all, compare his form with Dimitar Berbatov who has been banging them in over the festive period despite not having a look in all season. Both players are in the same boat at present but I know who I’d rather call upon. 

Another black mark on what was a torrid start to 2012 for City was Yaya Toure’s passing, at times it was woeful and ineffective as he lacked the fight and easily outfought by David Vaughan and Cattermole. Also let's not forget the amount of times that the industries Stephane Sessegnon was able to make inroads into the City back-line, this will be a major a concern for Mancini and his backroom staff. 

The sucker punch was always waiting to happen, but as Sunderland saw off yet another City move in the final minute of added on time you’d be forgiven for thinking they had wasted their best chances with Nicklas Bendtner and Sessegnon going close in each half. But excellent work from Sessegnon saw the South Korean import Ji Dong-won with virtually the last kick of the game, set Martin O’Neil off on one of his trademark celebrations.

 Stephane Sessegnon 
Worryingly for City they failed to win away from home once again. In fact their last win on the road in the league game at the start of November at QPR, a game where they also conceded twice and arguably were lucky to come away with all three points.

By no means is this a crisis, come May, City will have made great strides in twelve months but experience is key and Fergie’s know how is going to prove pivotal in the run in, he has been there and done that.

There is no doubt about City’s time will come and the current United side are in no great shape, it is going to make for a fascinating run in. If Tottenham and Arsenal maintain their runs they will certainly have some part to play as well. I just can not help thinking this season has come too soon for City, but it will not be too long as they will learn to press home the advantage when presented to them in years to come.

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