Manchester City is narrowly keeping pace with the seemingly unstoppable Red Devils. City sit seven points back of first, and dropping points at this point of the season could be the deciding factor in the race to be crowned EPL Champions.
City have been knocked out of all European competitions, and Roberto Mancini and his boys should have their minds geared towards an EPL repeat. Anything less than such could cost Mancini his job and see some major reshuffling of this squad of players.
Anything short of a trophy will be considered a failed year.
Manchester City's inability to score in bunches has been extremely frustrating this season. In 2011-12, the entire soccer world noted how important goals and goal differential truly was, when City's first title in 40 years was decided and won on exactly that.
Last season, the Citizens netted 93 goals, conceding just 29 with a goal differential of plus-64. The highlight package of all City goals last year is incredibly long and does include some terrific goals.
This season, however, City has 43 goals-for and 19 against with a differential of plus-24. The bottom line is City must begin to find the back of the net more often.
This summer, the purchase of Robin van Persie was an extremely hot topic. I, for one, wrote against the purchase of the Dutchman.
I was wrong.
One would think that the strikeforce of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli would be more than enough to see City through to another title. However, skill aside, City seems to be missing a pure finisher, and it's costing them points.
Dzeko leads the way with 10 goals; however, until recently, he has been designated as a super sub and has saved points for City from the bench in dramatic fashion. RVP already has 17 goals for United and has continued his superior form that was seen at Arsenal last season.
I'm not for spending more money on another striker this transfer window, but Mancini has to figure out a way to get his team scoring.
Change of mindset against weaker opponents
Another incredibly frustrating recurrence is Mancini's inability to tactically break down smaller teams. City fans have become accustom to some incredibly boring and painful games against weaker clubs.
For two seasons now, bottom dweller clubs have dealt with City in the same fashion, plug 10 men in the box for 90 minutes and counter, if possible.
The inability to create quality chances and dominate these teams nearly cost City the title last season against QPR (with 10 men, no less).
The most recent example was the Reading game, where another stoppage-time goal by Gareth Barry earned City three points.
City has become all too predictable. They play through the middle because they have no true winger and nobody who can put in a quality cross—besides maybe Zabaleta.
Clichy rarely connects on his crosses, Nasri and Silva are both better in the middle of the park, Milner can be effective, but he is an all-purpose man of sorts, and lastly, Sinclair has done nothing, nor has he been given a real chance.
City need to be able to attack differently to finish these teams instead of trying to pass through an entire team in the 18-yard box.
I would like to see a true winger brought into this club, use Dzeko's height and Javi Garcia's heading ability to score through the air when the games get sloppy.
Despite being seven points back, City has a long way to go and a lot of bad habits to fix in order to retain their title in 2012-2013.