Wednesday 21 March 2018

City the new Devon Loch as Aguero struggling for title push

A dejected Vincent Kompany and Javi Garcia of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland
A dejected Vincent Kompany and Javi Garcia of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland


Man City’s title hopes look to have been fatally wounded after successive Premier League losses. Here is what we learned from the home reversal at Sunderland last night.

This stadium is too quiet for a title tilt

If Manchester City are going to win the title, they are going to have to do it without the passionate support that appears to be driving Liverpool towards the finishing line.

The Etihad Stadium has always lacked the atmosphere of a traditional ground, but 72 hours after Manuel Pellegrini’s team experienced the full force of the Anfield experience, the contrast between the two stadia was stark. For lengthy periods, the Etihad was silent as City struggled to build on Fernandinho’s second-minute opener.

With three more games to play at home this season, there may come a point when the City fans are needed to become the 12th man, but there was no sign of that happening on Wednesday night.

Old-school Cattermole is a rebel in black boots

Remember when football boots came in two colours – black or black?

Those days are long gone, with players now wearing the most outlandish colours you could imagine, but Lee Cattermole managed to stand out from the crowd at the Etihad by sporting a pair of sensible boots of which Bryan Robson or Kenny Dalglish would have been proud.

The Sunderland midfielder is rare as an only outfield player in the Premier League bold enough to wear black.

In this fixture, it looked as though a giant bag of Skittles had been emptied on to the pitch with no fewer than nine players wearing orange boots, three in yellow and one in lime green. Joe Hart let the goalkeepers’ union down with his orange laces.

Tired Aguero will not decide this run-in

Sergio Agüero’s injury-time winner on the final day of the 2011-12 season clinched the Premier League title for Manchester City, but two years on the forward is struggling to limp over the line.

The Argentine has been plagued by muscle injuries this season, with a recent hamstring strain forcing him to start the defeat against Liverpool as a substitute on Sunday. He lasted only 56 minutes of this fixture. With injuries forcing Agüero to miss more than 20 games this season, the full impact on City’s title bid is now being felt.

Had he played in 10 of those games, he could surely have provided the goals to make a key difference, but with five to play he looks unfit and perhaps has one eye on the World Cup.

Faltering City resemble football’s Devon Loch

Manchester City had appeared unstoppable, with odds shortening on an unprecedented quadruple, until they fell foul of Jose Mourinho and Chelsea at the Etihad on Feb 3.

The 1-0 defeat that night was the first of five losses in all competitions in 15 games since and Manuel Pellegrini’s players have clearly failed to overcome the loss of their sense of invincibility. Sunderland almost became the fourth club to win at the Etihad in the space of two months, after Chelsea, Barcelona and Wigan, but City were able to salvage a draw thanks to Samir Nasri’s late equaliser.

But from going into the Chelsea game as an irresistible force, City have since been transformed into Devon Loch.


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