Manchester City’s defeat to Sunderland has left them with some questions that urgently need answering. Why is there such a disparity between home and away results? Is too much rotation inhibiting City’s rhythm? And are some players surplus to requirements?
It’s certainly a worry for all those connected with the club that City have taken just four points from a possible 18 away from home. There is a limp vulnerability about them defensively when they travel, and it is causing them significant problems. They lie eighth in the table—their lowest league position since August 2010.
The truth is, however, that Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Arsenal means City are in the same situation they were in before this weekend’s disastrous result: six points off the top and with everything to play for.
Six points is far from unassailable, especially when you consider that every side in the league appears to have frailties. Arsenal, the current league leaders, brought Nicklas Bendtner on in search of an equaliser at Old Trafford Sunday—far from title-winning depth in anyone’s book.
Chelsea are struggling to put any kind of a run together despite having a strong XI; United are improving but have midfield issues that simply won’t go away; Liverpool do not possess the strength in depth needed to last the pace; whilst Tottenham are yet to establish their best side after a summer transfer splurge.
All of which means that City have, so far, been let of the hook. However, too many more away days like the one they had Sunday, and they can kiss the title goodbye. It’s time for consistency from the Blues.
And there’s plenty to be optimistic at the Etihad. Sergio Aguero is in fine form, they’ve unearthed a superb midfielder in Fernandinho and in David Silva, they have one of the finest playmakers in Europe, even if he is out with a calf problem for three weeks.
The concern is that the likes of Aleksandar Kolarov and Javi Garcia have been getting too many games. Both players are confirmed failures and should only appear for a top European club on rare occasions, but at the moment, they are both involved fairly regularly. Kolarov has already made 12 appearances, and Garcia 11.
It shows a weakness that these two players are having significant involvement in first-team affairs.
The wins over Newcastle, Manchester United and Norwich are heights that no other Premier League side have reached. The commanding style of football that overwhelmed those three teams is unmatched by anyone else so far this season, suggesting City have the best team in the division. But if poor team selection and individual errors continue, City will struggle to prove it.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.