Manchester City's Win at West Brom Should Spark Title Charge

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Manchester City's Win at West Brom Should Spark Title Charge
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Manchester City beat West Brom, 3-2, at The Hawthorns to keep the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Prior to this match, City had taken just four points from a possible 18 away from the Etihad, but they now travel to Southampton on Saturday boosted by their second away win of the season.

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In truth, this wasn't a vintage City performance, but the result was all that mattered. With Arsenal and Chelsea also winning, three points were vital for a side that have continually won their home games this season, only to undo much of that good work by dropping points on the road.

In Sergio Aguero, City have a player so confident he seems likely to score every time he goes out on to the pitch. His pace was again a threat for most of the evening before he was rested with 20 minutes left. His 17 goals in 18 games this season represents a superb return from one of the finest strikers in Europe.

Vincent Kompany returned to the starting line-up after spending two months on the sidelines with a thigh injury, and he instantly gives City a more solid look at the back. The Blues have, at times this season, looked shaky defensively, so his return to fitness is a huge bonus. His leadership and defensive qualities mark him out as probably the best centre-back in the league, and if he can remain fit, City will be much more difficult to beat away from home.

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Dzeko and Hyde

The biggest surprise of the night was the omission of Alvaro Negredo who was rested in favour of Edin Dzeko, a player struggling to find his best form. Dzeko was excellent in the first half, with his hold-up play and all-round game as good as it's been for a while. He won headers, linked the play and brought others into the game. However, he faded badly after the break and is unlikely to start against Southampton.

He remains an incredibly frustrating figure: clearly a talented player, yet one who leaves the City fans feeling he could give so much more. It's difficult to see him remaining at the club in the long term.

The form of Samir Nasri, though, cannot be questioned—he has emerged as City's best player in recent weeks. With David Silva missing, the burden of creativity falls on the Frenchman, and he is relishing the role at the moment—a remarkable turnaround by a player who struggled badly for much of last season.

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Samir Nasri's excellent form continues.

Although City were nowhere near their best at The Hawthorns, they were by far the better side, and the result was never in doubt. Psychologically, it could prove a significant moment. If City can now go on a run of good results away from home, this could be the moment their title challenge really took off.

 

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.

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