Manchester City’s title hopes all but over. Where has it gone wrong?


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.

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.


Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up

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Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to see that DeAndre Yedlin didn’t look right last season.

The Newcastle United and USMNT right back was not up to his standards during the 2018-19 season, and Yedlin says the injury that’s cost him the start of this season has been the culprit for a long time.

[ MORE: Neymar ban reduced ]

Yedlin, 26, went through surgery this May for a sports hernia which he says bothered him on game days for almost a year and a half.


 “It was tough, and it was a bit confusing because it would come and go. There would be months that I’d be playing with it and I’d take pain killers before the game and try to get through it, then there’d be times when it didn’t bother me at all,” he said.

“Even in warm ups, I’d be thinking ‘it’s going to be tough to make it through this game.’ Once the pain killers hit in, you can’t really feel anything anymore and then adrenalin hits in but, yeah, it’s tough. As a player you don’t want to stop and then lose your place, but you’ve also got to do what’s best for you and for the longevity of your career.

That’s not good, and both USMNT and Newcastle supporters will hope the injury was the reason behind his decline in form.

Yedlin’s stats dropped in each of his last two PL seasons. For a player whose blessed with blazing speed, a sports hernia is only going to dramatically affect performance.

He says he has been in touch with USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.

“That’s been tough. I’ve had contact with the manager and they’re keeping updated on how I’m doing. This last international break was just a bit too soon but hopefully the next one, I’ll be ready for and hopefully I’ll have some minutes under my belt by that time, then really crack on from there.”

Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

LIVE, UCL: Napoli v. Liverpool, Chelsea v. Valencia

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is back, as Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea are both in action on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Reigning European champs Liverpool head to Napoli in their opening group game, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to avenge the defeat at the Stadio San Paolo in the group stage last season. As for Chelsea, Frank Lampard and several of his young Blues stars are making their UEFA Champions League debuts as a manager and players.

A beauty of a game takes place in Group F, as Borussia Dortmund host Barcelona with Lionel Messi back in the Barca squad after injury.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Napoli v. Liverpool
Red Bull Salzburg v. Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Barcelona

Group G
Benfica v. Leipzig

Group H
Ajax v. Lille
Chelsea v. Valencia