The race for the Premier League title is still in Manchester City’s hands after their 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates, but the opportunity to put themselves firmly in control was missed.
Earlier in the day, Chelsea lost away to Crystal Palace in one of the most surprising results of the season, and it looked like City would take full advantage after a first-half they dominated.
It was David Silva who was key to everything City did well. Fresh from his majestic showing at Old Trafford on Tuesday, he pulled the strings once again in the No. 10 role in behind Edin Dzeko.
Indeed, it was Silva who opened the scoring with a goal eerily similar to the opener in the derby earlier in the week. This time it was Dzeko who hit the post and there was Silva following up to tap home from close range.
It was exactly what City deserved and a first league double over since 1975/76 beckoned.
But a drastically different second-half saw them pegged back. Arsenal, who had invited City on to them in the first-half and gave them time and space to play, pressed their opponents high up the field after the break as City's tempo dropped.
Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla were suddenly far more prominent, and it was Flamini who equalised with his first goal at the Emirates since 2008, seconds after City had squandered a chance to extend their lead—a pivotal moment in the match.
Lukas Podolski could have won it for Arsenal, and City may well be relieved to come away with a point at the end of a difficult week.
Manuel Pellegrini: "4 points against United and Arsenal, both away. It's a good week for us"— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) March 29, 2014
All eyes now turn to Anfield where Liverpool take on Tottenham tomorrow afternoon in the latest installment of what is proving to be a pulsating title race. Liverpool sit one point ahead of City having played a game more, and will go on top if they beat Spurs.
A win for City at the Emirates would have seen their position as favourites strengthened. However, four points from two tough away games in the space of four days is likely to satisfy them as they prepare for the visit of Southampton next weekend.
City have won 12 of their last 15 league games and have looked far more solid defensively in recent weeks. With Silva in the form of his life, they will feel confident they can beat any side over the final eight matches of their league campaign.
Pellegrini: "All 4 teams in the title race will drop points between now and the end of the season"— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) March 29, 2014
The form and fitness of their big players, as ever, remains key. This is true particularly for Silva whose influence on Coty's attacking game increases with every match. His ability to keep possession in tight spaces and find passes others don't see is unparalleled in the Premier League, and City have a potent weapon for their difficult run in.
His role just off a lone striker suits him, and Manuel Pellegrini has a big decision to make in terms of his formation when Sergio Aguero returns to fitness.
City's trip to Liverpool on April 13 looks likely to go a long way in determining the outcome of their season.
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.
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