Yes it is now 10 points that Chelsea’s comfortable distance from 3rd place Manchester City. Some says it’s not the end of the chase, some fans might say that we will fight till the end. And of course players would like to give all effort to bring back the silverware home. But the gesture Pep gave to the recent strategy said it all, I don’t wan’t to judge that he is now pessimist rather than realistic. Pep is a world class manager, with lot of trophy in his cupboard, and he use to be at the top of the table, either on his successful years at Barcelona or Bayern Muenchen. Chasing point is another story, as he said when decided to move to England that he will learn, and he will be learning a lot.
The fact that City got the EPL title twice from behind, 2011/12 season in era of Roberto Mancini when Manchester Red is 8 points ahead in 6 matches remaining and ended in a glorious dramatic final match ever. And then in 2013/14 season when Liverpool seems to be the champions with only two weeks left and three matches remaining. Their disappointing defeat and two draws make them second at the end of the season. City’s Pellegrini come from behind to collect the silverware. For City fans, this situation bring them a good mentality of how they will support the team till the end. And now there’s no reason to give up with the 10 points gap in remaining 11 matches.
But Chelsea of course now in a very good form, they are rarely put a foot wrong. They seems ready to beat every team in the league for the rest of the season. They have higher goal difference (37 when this article wrote) and good record (WWDWDWW).
Pep is turning his face to the FA Cup, which in a rough calculation is more realistic to get than EPL. And don’t forget that City’s step in UEFA Champions League is getting better after their home win against AS Monaco in first leg. However, Pep’s starting line-up tells us this.
Arguably, starting XI for Middlesbrough FA Cup match is the best that City have with exception for Claudio Bravo. Seems that Pep have found the settled team in 4-1-4-1 formation, which have a good balance between attacking and defending. Willy Caballero gave a good confidence to the defenders. According to OptaCity, they now have 6 away successive clean sheet in all competition. In the center back position, Otamendi and Stones share a good competition with Kolarov, although they sometime still do sloppy thing, but overall they are progressing. While Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna doing very well in the right full back position. In the left side, Gael Clichy doing fine with Aleks sometimes fill the position. Yaya’s dictating game give him assured place, combined with his vision, intelligent pass and awesome set piece. His remarkable return from the fuss against the manager is a good addition to the team. Silva’s magic touch and De Bruyne directness in front of Yaya is the heart of City attacking strategy. Silva is now near to his best and begin to bring back fans memory of how good he is, the Sky Blue Merlin. Kevin, yet although has not reach his form at first year when he join City, is one of reliable player. The most interesting position that Pep’s had now is the wingers, Sterling and Sane always share remarkable stories that press enjoy to wrote. Their electric move with or without ball always be a constant torment to opposite defender. Finally, the Legend, Sergio Aguero is back to the lethal form, shut the mouth of his doubters. Whether he or Gabriel play as spearhead, they are nightmare for defender.
Back in the EPL match against Stoke which ended with 0-0 score, Pep made changes to his attacking machine. Jesus Navas take Sterling place in the right wing, while Silva rested to give Yaya Toure chance to be at more advance role. And finally Fernandinho takes Yaya’s post as solo holding midfielder. First half display showed that this line-up is absolutely not working. Ferna unfortunately not as good as Toure, and Navas did not give enough threat. Silva’s introduction at 56 minute makes City attacking more fluid, but not enough to get the points. The team selection show how Pep is now made EPL “not as important” as FA Cup and UCL.
As a fans I still have a confidence that City will do the best in remaining 11 matches, and hopefully the magic will come again. The battle against Chelsea will be the deciding time, should I surrender or keep on the faith.