Manchester City: Picking the Starting XI to Seal the Premier League Title vs QPR
There is a certain beauty in the symmetry of Manchester City's home form this season which will doubtless appeal to only one half of the city. 52 goals scored during 17 wins and one draw have amassed 52 points to propel the Blues to the summit of the Premier League.
This average of 2.88 points per home game is the highest produced by any team in Europe's five leading leagues – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. Three points versus Queens Park Rangers this Sunday will most likely result in the first league title for Manchester City under the ADUG reign. The Blues currently stand joint-top in the amount of home goals scored, with Manchester United having already played out their final home game. Defensively the team has been equally as impressive, conceding just 10 times at the Etihad.
QPR, meanwhile, have suffered on their travels. Mark Hughes' men have hit the back of the net just 17 times away from home, a record only worse than Stoke City and Fulham. 38 goals conceded in 18 games puts the R's just behind the already relegated Blackburn Rovers for the worst defensive away record.
Since that fateful afternoon when Manchester United went eight points clear at the top of the table before seemingly hitting the self-destruct button, things could not have gone much better for their cross-town rivals. City have won all five fixtures which followed, scoring 15 goals and cementing what looks to be a semblance of Roberto Mancini's strongest XI.
Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy, Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero all started the recent Manchester derby and retained their places in the starting lineup for the crunch tie at St. James' Park.
Yaya Toure was moved further forward to great acclaim and effect late on in both games, but it is unlikely that he will occupy that role from the start on Sunday.
Samir Nasri has settled into City life during the second half of the season, picking up his performances as David Silva suffered with an ankle injury. Nine assists, a pass success rate of 90.9 percent combined with vital goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea have not gone unnoticed by the City faithful, even if his contribution to the division's leading scorers has seemingly not reached outside of those who watch the team regularly.
If there is to be one change to the starting XI it is likely to be the more offensive Micah Richards replacing Pablo Zabaleta at right-back. Richards, who found himself out of the team due to a muscle injury, has been kept out of the side after impressive defensive performances from his Argentinian team-mate. But with the emphasis very much on the Blues to attack, Micah Richards' pace and power could be a vital weapon in overloading the QPR backline.
Should the scoreline remain deadlocked, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli are viable options from the bench.
Predicted lineup: Joe Hart; Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy; Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, David Silva; Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero.
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