The Manchester City FC, with today’s victory over Liverpool FC, is poised, ready, and right on target to take the Premier League lead. Coming out of the crucible that is the Christmas season schedule, the worst of the four-match marathon is behind the City squad. Although it will be on short rest that they face Crystal Palace FC on Saturday, Manchester City seems the more likely to win the day. They are, on the surface, the much better team. At home, this season, they have been virtually unbeatable. It is highly improbable that City will lose enough of their form to be beaten at home by a team barely out of the relegation zone. Crystal Palace did well to come away with the three points that pulled the team out of the bottom three on Boxing Day, but they will probably not have enough in the tank to take down a Manchester City squad that has all of the momentum at the moment.
Even with injury concerns, the Manchester City side has proven that they have the depth that it takes to win the Premier League trophy. With Sergio Aguero out, they are down their leading goal scorer. This has barely caused them to lose a stride. Manager Manuel Pellegrini and squad have kept the attack on point, building on the solid defensive line that has been at the core of the Manchester City success story this year. With Captain Vincent Kompany directing the effort, City is always on the verge of turning an opponent’s charge into a formidable counter-attack.
Having Joe Hart back in the goal again after an extended break on the bench is just one more reason for fans to believe that Manchester City is ready to face the challenge of coming out on top of the table going into the January Transfer Window. Hart’s form in his last three matches makes it clear that the time off has done a world of good. He is focused, fast as ever, and less prone to risky moves that take him out of position. He looks like a Premier League leading goalie.
The return of defender, Pablo Zabaleta, was a welcome boost for City in light of the fact that they faced the relentless creativity of Luis Suarez on his side of the field. Liverpool has been beating defenses down all season with that sustained attack. The Boxing Day match-up has illustrated well the difference between the two teams, and why the Manchester City FC squad are showing the right make-up to hold onto the top spot, should they hit that target this week.
Kompany, Zabaleta, and Aleksander Kolarov on the other side all represent significant scoring threats in addition to being a formidable defensive line. Their speed pressing the attack when they take possession has proven difficult for opponents to counter. The fact that they have this strong defensive core on which to build makes all of the difference to their ability to continue their success. When they lose a scorer like Aguero, this defensive line continues to manufacture opportunities and scoring chances for others to step up and take advantage of.
Alvaro Negredo has thrust himself to the front of the line as beneficiary of those opportunities, with Samir Nasri, David Silva and Jesus Navas right behind. City has the personnel necessary to withstand the adjustments mandated by injury. Liverpool is by no means limited to Suarez for potential scoring chances, but neither do they possess the number of genuine threats up front that City does. While Liverpool will no doubt continue to challenge for the top spots as the season moves forward, the Christmas schedule is far more likely to end with the Manchester City FC right on target with the Premier League lead than with anybody else.
By Jim Malone