The Manchester derbies were always going to be pivotal points in the race for the Premier League, and last week’s defeat has left Manchester City six points behind their fierce rivals from across the City.
Since then they have been written off in many quarters, but to me that seems a ridiculous over-reaction. There is still plenty of football to be played – including a return game at Old Trafford on April 6 – and that means there is still plenty of time for them to reel in the rivals and successfully defend their English crown.
Some will agree and some will say I’m mad (it probably depends on your allegiance), but here are five reasons why Manchester City can still win the Premier League title this season.
Suggesting home form following a home defeat will probably appear strange to some, but if you look past the defeat to United you will see a City side that has been rock-solid at the Etihad Stadium over the past couple of years. Roberto Mancini’s men were riding a 37-game unbeaten run on their home turf prior to the Manchester derby, so this is a team that has shown they are a tough nut to crack in front of their own supporters. One defeat will not change that.
No Champions League football
When teams crash out of the Champions League they often try to cushion the blow by claiming it will help their domestic title hopes. Some will see it as a cover-up, but City’s early exit should help them during the second half of the season. The longer United are in the Champions League the more their attention will be focused on winning it, and that will lead to Sir Alex Ferguson rotating his squad on occasions. This will undoubtedly lead to some slip-ups in the league and that is where City can pounce. Yes, they are in the Europa League, but I can’t see Mancini sending out his best players. Which brings me to my next point…
Roberto Mancini needs the title
Reports out of Manchester have suggested that Mancini will find himself in the unemployment line if they don’t win the title. A miserable Champions League campaign means the Italian is in a ‘must-win’ scenario when it comes to the Premier League. All of his attention and focus will be on it and he could sacrifice the FA Cup and Europa League by keeping his players fresh for the league.
United’s leaky defence
United have shown weakness at the back and have developed a habit of falling behind in games. They have already rescued seven Premier League wins from losing positions this season – as well as doing it three times in the Champions League – but there have been occasions when they have not turned it around. If they continue in this vein there are sure to be some more slip-ups along the way and that will give City the opportunity to close what is, in all fairness, a small gap.
Eight points weren’t enough last season
Last season United came out of the Easter weekend with an eight-point lead after City were beaten by Arsenal, and almost everyone expected the title to be making its way to Old Trafford. A shock defeat to Wigan and a poor home draw against Everton saw the lead cut and City then ran out 1-0 winners when they met with three games to go. These two teams meet on April 6 and it is that game that could ultimately decide the champions – and City did win at Old Trafford last season… 6-1!
Matthew Glazier writes for Bettingpro.com an award-winning football, news and betting website.