Despite being viewed as one of the top contenders to win the EPL title this season, Manchester City have stumbled out to a sub-par start. There are several reasons for their slow start, but the Man City brass clearly believes that goalkeeping has been an issue as Joe Hart has been dropped from the upcoming match in favor of Costel Pantilimon, according to Telegraph Sport.
Exclusive: Joe Hart dropped by Manchester City for Saturday's game against Norwich. Full story here http://t.co/LoAPwiGzWA— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) November 1, 2013
City are currently in seventh place with 16 points as they have won five, lost three and drawn one match to this point. Manchester City lead the league in goals with 21, but their 11 goals surrendered in nine matches is among the worst in the league.
The 26-year-old Hart has started all nine matches for the Citizens and he has been their primary starter since coming to the team from Birmingham City in 2010. Hart has been lauded as a great goalkeeper, but many believe that he is somewhat overrated due to the fact that he's English.
With that in mind, Manchester City figure to turn to their backup in the form of Pantilimon. The Romanian goalkeeper has very little EPL experience, but he has shown a great deal of potential over the years. Since joining Man City in 2011, the 26-year-older stopper hasn't started a league match, although he has gotten some work in cup play.
Is replacing Joe Hart with Costel Pantilimon the right move for Manchester City?
In seven cup matches over the past three seasons, Pantilimon has five clean sheets, so this could prove to be a great move by Manchester City. If his play with Romanian club Poli Timisoara from 2006 through 2011 is any indication, Pantilimon has what it takes to compete at a high level.
One thing that Pantilimon certainly has on his side is size. The big Romanian stands 6'8", which means that he can get an extremity on pretty much any shot sent his way as long as his anticipation is at least somewhat accurate.
Pantilimon has played so infrequently in recent years that it is difficult to predict how he'll fare moving forward. Despite that, manager Manuel Pellegrini seemingly plans on starting him against Norwich City on Saturday, according to Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
Manchester City are super talented and they have enough to win it all if they can find a way to right the ship. It remains to be seen if Pantilimon is the answer, but he has a golden opportunity to lock down the starting job if he can impress on Saturday.
Provided Pantilimon plays as well as he did against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, he will be the man for City moving forward.
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