By Alex Fisher
Roberto Mancini may not want to admit it but Manchester City are now right back in the title race and some may say they should now even be rated favourites to lift the Premier League at the end of the season.
Manchester United’s draw with Everton coupled with City’s victory over Wolves sees the blue side of Manchester three points behind the neighbours, and knowing that victories in their last three games of the season will see them get their hands on the league title for the first time in 44 years.
Despite this Mancini continues to deny his side are even in contention for the title as the Italian attempts to divert any pressure away from the team them, given how they have struggled under the burden of expectation.
City were last on top of the table one month ago but they were not the City we had seen at the start of the season, not the City side who scored six at Old Trafford, not the City side everyone loved to watch.
|THREE DOWN, THREE TO GO
Man City's title run-in
||Man City 3-0 West Brom
||Norwich 1-6 Man City
||Wolves 0-2 Man City|
||Manchester United (H)|
||Newcastle United (A)
Initially they stuttered after relinquishing top spot as a draw against Sunderland and a defeat to Arsenal left them eight points behind their city rivals and the pressure was well and truly off. However, this seemed to be exactly what City needed and they became the side they had been earlier this season.
Since the defeat at the Emirates they have scored 12 goals in three games and find themselves back in title contention, but now they have to deal with the pressure again.
But have City got the battling characteristics needed to get themselves back on top of the table? And is Roberto Mancini brave enough to push his side to the title?
City were far from their best against Wolves, they were lucky that they were playing a side with no confidence and lacking any real quality going forward. Mancini’s side struggled at time in the centre of midfield, so much so that Nigel De Jong was summoned from the bench to replace David Silva as they looked to hold onto their lead.
Following the game, Mancini said: "In second half for the first 20 minutes we had a problem in the middle and every time we attacked we’d lose four or five players and if we play like this we concede one or two goals minimum. For this reason I put De Jong in the middle, and then there were no problems."
Now the spotlight is right back on City again and the worry for all their fans must be that they will succumb to the pressure again and ultimately miss out on their first title since 1968. So what do City need to do to ensure they don’t freeze under the spotlight again?
Mancini summed it up perfectly after the win over Wolves: "Now it’s not important to play well, only to win."
|"Now the spotlight is right back on City again and the worry for all their fans must be that they will succumb to the pressure again and ultimately miss out on their first title since 1968"|
There is no doubt that City’s run-in is difficult but all they need to do is win. They must battle and win ugly whilst competing in every area of the pitch against United, Newcastle and QPR.
Gareth Barry and De Jong are the players Mancini relies on to dominate games for his side but they need every single player to do the same until the end of the season.
|7/4||Manchester City are now 7/4 to win the Premier League with Paddy Power|
Something else Mancini was upset about against Wolves was their wastefulness in front of goal. "We had chances to score and I'm disappointed for this because when you have chances to score you have to score," the Italian told reporters.
City had 17 chances at Molineux but were only able to get nine on target, with Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri both missing fantastic chances to make their afternoon much easier. They cannot afford to continue to do this if they are going to lift the Premier League trophy. They must be more clinical as chances may not present themselves so often in the last three games.
The biggest match of the season is just a week away and if City want to get their hands on the Premier League they are going to have deal with the pressure.