Manchester City will not win the Premier League in 2014-15. There. I’ve said it.
[ RECAP – Palace 2-1 City ]
The reigning PL champions have crumbled from being two points behind Chelsea after 21 games of the season in early January, to being nine points behind and having played an extra match in the first week of April.
[ PLAYBACK: Wonder goals, 2015-16 title race ]
Just a year after winning the PL title, Manuel Pellegrini is on the chopping block after UEFA Champions League failure and the Citizens currently sit in fourth place after three defeats from their last five matches.
Here’s a look at why their title defense has fallen by the wayside this season.
Yaya Toure’s demise
Okay, he scored a beauty against Crystal Palace on Monday but his struggles have continued throughout the campaign as Toure simply looks like he doesn’t want to be there. Last season he finished as City’s top scorer in the PL with 20 goals but this campaign the Ivory Coast international has scored just seven goals in the PL and his demeanor reflects his reduced productivity. Toure doesn’t want to be around and at the age of 31, those rumors linking him with a move to Inter Milan this summer seem to be making sense. The highlight of his season was success at the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast. Mentally, it appears that Toure has checked out as his and City’s season has been one to forget.
Pellegrini’s insistence to play 4-4-2
Another reason for City’s stumbling performances since January has been down to Pellegrini’s insistence to play 4-4-2 and start Sergio Aguero up top with Edin Dzeko. So often City have been outnumbered in midfield and that was the case once again on Monday as Crystal Palace used Joe Ledley, James McArthur and Jason Puncheon to overload Fernandinho and Toure in the middle.
Samir Nasri and Frank Lampard were on the bench against Palace and as so often has been the case in the past few weeks, why would you starve Aguero of chances when the Argentine is one of the most predatory forwards in the game? Maybe because he’s been injured for large chunks of the second half of the season and has been struggling, as the stat above suggests…
Kompany, Aguero’s rustiness since injury
In the final months of the season Aguero and Vincent Kompany haven’t been themselves. It is clear for everyone to see. After Aguero injured his knee in December, he hasn’t quite emerged as the same player as he has failed to score in his last five games for City after scoring 23 goals this season before that. As for Kompany, his steely leadership in the center of defense has been missing since he suffered a hamstring and calf injuries from December to January, as City have succumbed to Burnley and Crystal Palace away from home in two of their last three matches.
That resolve is missing from City’s side, as two of their leading men have failed to come up with the goods when their side has really needed it. City has now lost away at Liverpool, Burnley and Palace in their last three away matches and their ability for Kompany to come up with a big stop — he seems to have lost a yard of pace and sharpness since his injuries — and Aguero to find a finish late on, has dissipated. How much you can put that down to a month out from December to January is questionable, but their sharpness hasn’t quite been there as both guys are leaders and lynch-pins of the Citizens. A confusing incident occurred in the second half of City’s clash which summed it all up. Pellegrini was ready to sub off Kompany as the Belgian international seemed to be struggling with yet another injury, however he then waved away his Chilean boss and carried on. Kompany hasn’t been fully fit or at his best for quite some time and it has hurt City, badly.