Roberto Mancini and Yaya Toure are just two of the Manchester City personnel that have not written off a successful defence of the Premier League title and this is rightly so.
Man City are 16/1 to win the Premier League, but theoretically their pursuit of Manchester United should be easier than 12 months ago.
Now they have a gap of 12 points to bridge from 11 games, which effectively means they need to gain 1.09 points more than Man Utd in each game.
Last April, they needed to close eight points in six fixtures, which equated to 1.33 points more than Man Utd per appearance.
They won their final six last year and if they can triumph in all of their final 11 this time, they will finish on an identical points total, which may be needed to have a chance of catching Man Utd.
Pivotal to such a winning run could be the positioning of Yaya Toure, who was pushed into a more advanced midfield role in the victory over Chelsea.
With Javi Garcia struggling to consistently make the desired impact after his move from Benfica and Jack Rodwell having injury troubles, Toure has regularly been forced to occupy one of the deeper midfield roles.
Although he can make his lung-bursting midfield runs from here, his raw physicality makes him more of an asset from a position further forward, where he can more regularly break into the opposing penalty box.
He did so most memorably in the FA Cup semi final success over Man Utd in 2011 and showed signs of similar forays against Chelsea, especially when more space seemingly became available once Carlos Tevez had been introduced.
Toure has scored no more than six goals in the last two Premier League seasons and this must be considered a shortage for a player of his talent. There is no real reason that he shouldn’t be getting closer to the regular tallies secured by Frank Lampard from open play.
True, he is not the first central midfielder who should score more – Jack Wilshere and Mousa Dembele are other examples – but five goals in the current campaign is another disappointing return.
A possible change in position could help in this regard and Toure may well prove Man City’s most vital player in the coming weeks if they are to stand a chance of reeling in Man Utd in the title race.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.