Man City can lay blame at feet of “big three” for title failings

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When Manchester City snatched their maiden Premier League title away from Manchester United on the final day of the 2012 campaign, there were some pivotal performances put in throughout the season by the side’s spine.

Fast forward two years and in the title-defining clash of 2013/14, that same spine let the side down badly in a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool that makes Brendan Rodgers’ side the clear 8/11 favourites to land the trophy.

Sergio Aguero scored 23 league goals in that spoil-claiming season, impressing greatly on his way to a 30-strike haul in all competitions.

Although making a return from injury against Liverpool, his introduction in the 68th minute sucked all the momentum out of the Citizens, for whom the replaced Edin Dzeko was a key component.

Manuel Pellegrini’s eagerness to reintegrate his leading front man has cost his side dearly. City, who are now 21/10 for the title, have lost the last three matches in which Aguero has featured – all of which the Argentine has suffered or come back from a knock.

Similarly, Vincent Kompany was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI at Anfield. The immovable force from 2012 suffered a knee problem ahead of the match but played anyway, although with the affected joint heavily taped.

His failure to track Martin Skrtel after 26 minutes resulted in Liverpool’s second goal while his fluffed clearance handed the impressive Philippe Coutinho the chance to bag the winner.

Pellegrini’s over-reliance on his big names despite them not being fully fit ultimately cost the Chilean the match, while injury also ripped midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure from his grasp early on in the first half.

With Toure missing, Kompany under-performing and Aguero ineffective, the Reds were able to seal an emotional victory that puts the title firmly in their hands.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.