Stevan Jovetic Return Strikes Right Note for Manchester City Title Hopes

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  Steven Jovetic of Manchester City scores the first goal past Petr Cech of Chelsea during the FA Cup Fifth Round match sponsored by Budweiser between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 15, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With Manchester City's forwards struggling for form and fitness in recent weeks, news of Stevan Jovetic's imminent return is just what Manuel Pellegrini needed. 

City face a tough run of fixtures between now and the end of the season. With Sergio Aguero out after tweaking his hamstring injury against Barcelona and Alvaro Negredo out of form, Jovetic provides a timely boost ahead of Fulham's visit this Saturday.

The Montenegrin injured his hamstring against Stoke a month ago after his first decent injury-free run of games since joining the club from Fiorentina in the summer. A series of niggling injuries has reduced him to just 12 appearances all season, with seven of those coming between late January and late February, a period in which he showed clear signs of his ability before his latest setback sidelined him once more.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  Stevan Jovetic of Manchester City celebrates opening the scoring during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on February 15, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shau
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

He looked lively and was growing in confidence. Well-taken goals against Tottenham and Chelsea demonstrated his quality in front of goal, and his desire to drop deep to pick up the ball before turning and running at the opposition offered City something different from their other forwards.

And now, with City's strikeforce stuttering somewhat, his return could be just what they need to reignite their ailing attack.

Aguero returned from a month-long absence with a hamstring injury when he started the League Cup final at the beginning of the month, but an insipid performance suggested a player still not fully fit. Another quiet display in the FA Cup match with Wigan followed, before his hamstring flared up again after just a few minutes of City's last 16 Champions League match against Barcelona last week.

The Argentine played on and finished the first half but hardly touched the ball, a passenger incapable of influencing proceedings before being taken off to ensure no further damage was done.

Aguero's injury troubles have coincided with a startling dip in form from Negredo, a player who looked superb for the first half of the season but whose influence and goals have since dried up.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  Steven Jovetic of Manchester City celebrates scoring their fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on January 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

City have managed just 10 goals in the nine games since the 5-1 win away at Spurs in January. Given the free-flowing football that had gone before, it's a significant dip in form that needs arresting to keep City in the driving seat for the league title.

David Silva playing centrally just off Edin Dzeko worked well during the second half at the Nou Camp and against Hull at the weekend. It's an option City can turn to and one that suits Silva, who seems to play even better in that role, but Jovetic's return adds further dynamism to their attack.


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: @RobPollard_.