What’s The Matter With … Man City’s title challenge?
The Premier League title race is already over if the betting is to be believed, with Manchester United now 1/10 to finish top, which is the shortest price they have ever been at this point of the season.
Back-to-back draws with QPR and Liverpool have resulted in Manchester City drifting to 13/2 as they have nine points to make up and just 13 fixtures to do it in.
When a game is open, Man City are more than adept at finding pockets of space and creating chances.
They did this earlier in the season successfully against Man Utd even though they lost, at Arsenal when they were helped by the opposition being reduced to ten men in the opening ten minutes and against Fulham when they took the lead inside two minutes.
However, it took until injury time and a debateable Gareth Barry goal to break down a compact Reading and a late goal from full-back Pablo Zabaleta to scrape past Stoke in the FA Cup.
Against QPR, the opposition were too organised, while a couple of moments of inspiration were required from Sergio Aguero to steal an undeserved draw from Liverpool.
Silva was getting little room to orchestrate from, while the rest of the midfield are arguably grafters rather than creators. The decision to bench Carlos Tevez in favour of Edin Dzeko also limits creativity, even if it does give them more of a penalty-box focus.
The only real alternative that Mancini has shown so far is a switch to 3-5-2, which does allow Silva to play in more of a free role, but does not necessarily ensure him more space.
In fact, it floods the central area more and prevents the likes of Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure from enjoying the same attacking thrust.
Aguero showed signs of getting close to his best form of last season in the Liverpool game and this bodes well for the remainder of their season, but Mancini’s lack of a playmaker from a slightly deeper position may cost Man City.
Javi Garcia has not had the impact that may have been expected of him and with Man City not having another midfielder to ease some of the creative burden on Silva and give the opposition another player to monitor, they have become fairly predictable to frustrate and contain.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date