Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was highly criticized for his use of personnel during the first half of the season.
Since his club's exit from the UEFA Champions League, those criticisms have quieted somewhat.
Mancini experimented with plenty of different formations and player combinations during Champions League group stage play and in some early-season EPL matches.
Mancini has not experimented too much with his squad since the exit from the European stage due to injuries.
Not many changes have had to be made by Mancini since the Citizens' European exit, because the club has been in good form with six wins in their last eight matches.
Here is the strongest starting 11 that Mancini can put out on the pitch for the rest of the season.
Over the past month the preferred formation of Roberto Mancini has been the 4-4-1-1.
The 4-4-1-1 replaced the 4-2-3-1 that was used on a frequent basis at the beginning of the season.
Mancini has used the 4-4-1-1 in 11 EPL matches this season and has been using the Citizens formation since their 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Boxing Day.
The formation allows for Mancini to utilize two forwards, with one dropping back into the midfield if needed or to go more forward to assist the main forward.
In the midfield, the two central players are encouraged to go further forward in attack rather than stay back in defense like they would in the 4-2-3-1.
The defense is set up in the traditional back four, which is something that Mancini did not use on a consistent basis during Champions League play when he attempted to use three at the back.
The only way that Joe Hart will not be included in the Manchester City starting 11 is if he is out injured or is suspended.
Hart has been the clear-cut, first-choice keeper this season for the Citizens by starting in all of the club's EPL and Champions League matches.
The England international has recorded nine clean sheets this season, three of which have come in his last five matches.
The most recent of those clean sheets came on Sunday, when City shut out Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Pablo Zabaleta has been Mancini's first-choice at right-back for most of the season.
The versatile, 28-year-old Argentinian can play at both center and left-back as well, but his strongest defensive position is right-back.
Zabaleta has started 16 of City's 22 EPL matches this season and has earned the Man of the Match title from WhoScored.com twice over the past month against Reading and Stoke.
Also in the past month, Zabaleta's attacking prowess has been a welcome addition to the City lineup, with goals in the Manchester derby and against Stoke.
Zabaleta's strong defensive skills have been the reason for his role in the starting 11 over summer arrival Douglas Maicon, who is considered a better attacking option.
Club captain Vincent Kompany has been a rock in the Manchester City defense since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Hamburg in 2008.
This season, Kompany has missed just three matches in the EPL, and he started in all six of City's Champions League group stage matches.
The Belgian's disciplinary record in the center of the City defense has also been very impressive with just two yellow cards and one red card against Arsenal on Sunday, which was rescinded by the FA just days later.
Kompany's presence in the City back four is a no-brainer, but his partner in the center of defense is not that easy to figure out.
Since his arrival from Fiorentina this summer, 19-year-old Matija Nastasic has impressed fans and pundits alike with his skill set.
Nastasic made his first start for the Citizens on September 18 against Real Madrid and has made 17 additional starts since then at center-back.
The Serbian has forced the experienced Joleon Lescott out of the starting 11 due to his strong defending talents.
Nastasic has also started one match at left-back, but he is not expected to be making any more starts at that position for the time being.
While Aleksandar Kolarov has had his fair share of injury problems this season, he is the best option for City at the left-back position when he is fully fit.
Kolarov is a better fit at the position than Gael Clichy because of the potential attacking threat he contains.
Kolarov is a strong taker of free kicks and is also a strong choice at the position because of his crossing abilities.
The competition between Kolarov and Clichy for the starting spot at left-back is one of the fiercest on the depth chart when both are healthy, but Kolarov is the best option at the position due to his deadly left foot on set pieces.
Manchester City possess a plethora of attacking talent that could play out on the right wing, but for now the best option at the position is James Milner.
Not only does Milner provide a threat to opposing defenses when he goes forward in attack, but he also possesses strong defensive abilities.
Since Mancini made the switch to the 4-4-1-1, Milner has been the preferred player on the right wing to help balance out a fast, offensive-minded midfield.
Milner is also a player who can provide cover in the center of midfield when Yaya Toure ventures forward in the City attack; Milner has started four times in the central midfield position this season.
Yaya Toure is arguably the most valuable player in the Manchester City lineup.
Toure started the season in the defensive midfield of the 4-2-3-1 formation, but that setup hurt the attacking prowess of the towering Ivorian.
Toure is a much better player when he is allowed to go forward in the attack and when he doesn't have to worry about chasing opponents back in defense on the counter-attack.
By playing in the 4-4-1-1, Toure is able to move forward in City attack without any hesitations as Milner and Gareth Barry can provide defensive cover for him.
In his role going forward in attack, Toure has provided countless important goals for City, including his goal that started City's comeback in the Manchester derby on December 9.
Gareth Barry may be one of the most underrated midfielders in the EPL.
The 31-year-old Englishman has formed a formidable pairing in the center of midfield with Yaya Toure at City.
Barry is not an attacking midfielder like his partner in the center of midfield, but he is an accurate passer of the ball and a strong defender.
Barry averages just over 62 passes per game and has a pass success rate of 87.3 percent; he is near the club lead in both categories.
If he continues his strong passing and defending, there is no doubt that Barry will be chosen ahead of Javi Garcia for the spot alongside Toure in the center of midfield for the rest of the season.
David Silva is currently the best winger on the Manchester City roster.
The versatile Spaniard has started in five different positions in the numerous formations sent out to the pitch by Mancini.
With Milner out on the right wing, Silva has been the starter on the left wing in recent matches.
Silva is a speedy winger with plenty of pace that can drive opposing defenses crazy.
Silva has been at his best of late with three assists in his last six EPL appearances, which is one more assist than he had during the first four months of the season.
With Silva starting to get back into form, expect to see him terrorizing opposing defenses more often during the second half of the season.
With Mancini's switch to the 4-4-1-1 formation, one of his forwards has been forced to sit behind the main forward in attack.
The player who best fits that position is Sergio Aguero.
Aguero has the ability to not only provide the primary forward with quality passes, but he is able to go back deep into the midfield and gain possession.
The Argentinian forward's goal tally has also benefited from his new role with two goals in City's last two matches against Norwich City and Stoke.
The only question surrounding Aguero's play at the moment is what forward he should be playing behind on a weekly basis.
Edin Dzeko was cast into the role of super-sub during the first half of the season, but in recent weeks he has proven his worth as a starter as well.
Dzeko has scored four goals in his last three EPL matches as he looks to keep a starting spot away from Carlos Tevez.
Dzeko is also a much better fit up front in the 4-4-1-1 ahead of Tevez due to his physicality and aerial ability.
Tevez and Aguero are two similar players, and City need a forward whose style is opposite to Aguero to partner him in the attack at the moment.
Having the dilemma of who to select at the forward position on a weekly basis is a good problem to have for Mancini, but for the time being, Dzeko is the best option.
All statistics provided by WhoScored.com.
Who do you think should be included in City's ideal starting XI?
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