Stevan Jovetic's Form Gives Manchester City Leg Up in Premier League Title Chase

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Stevan Jovetic's Form Gives Manchester City Leg Up in Premier League Title Chase
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Manchester City continued their excellent start to the new Premier League campaign on Monday. A 3-1 win over the team they pipped to last season's title, Liverpool, leaves them as one of just four teams—alongside Tottenham, Chelsea and Swansea—to win each of their first two matches.

A brace from Stevan Jovetic sent City on their way before Sergio Aguero blasted home a third less than half a minute after emerging off the bench. An unfortunate own goal that barely crossed the goal line, credited to Pablo Zabaleta, robbed Joe Hart of a second clean sheet.

Aguero's goal was his second in as many games despite being a second-half substitute on both occasions.

However, it's the Montenegrin who started in his place who stole the show with his third double in the last month. The first came against AC Milan in Pittsburgh; the second?

Against Liverpool at Yankee Stadium.

It's safe to say that "Jo-Jo" is in stunning form right now.

Jovetic was far and away his side's best player during the tour of the United States. Even in his scoreless outing against Sporting Kansas City, he showed his top-class talent throughout as he led the line in the absence of World Cup stars Aguero and Edin Dzeko.

As the caliber of the opposition he faced went up over the progression of the tour, the caliber of Jovetic's play went up accordingly.

Not only did he get off the mark with a double against the Italians, but he displayed some wonderful touch in delivering an inch-perfect cross for Jesus Navas. The Spaniard's acrobatic finish found the back of the net via a deflection to make the score 3-0 in the eventual 5-1 rout on July 27.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Jovetic's scintillating form dates back to preseason.

A second straight match with a pair of goals unfortunately went to waste three days later as some shoddy penalty-taking from his teammates saw his side lose to Liverpool.

We've all seen what he's capable of doing with the ball at his feet, but it's just how well he works in Manuel Pellegrini's system that's helped him stand out so far.

His role is not unlike that of Aguero, as they're both on the smaller side of the forward group. As such, it comes down to their pace and movement across the line to cause the defense as much trouble as possible.

When a taller player like Dzeko leads the line, the partner makes the key runs to unlock the back line as the target man holds up play. Plus, their pace and willingness to run leads them to pressure the defenders into playing backwards or sideways balls to hinder any counter-attacking opportunities.

Pellegrini hailed his striker's performance in his post-match commentary, stating Man of the Match Jovetic "worked hard for the whole game also without the ball."

One of the biggest factors for Jovetic heading into this new campaign is the fact that he barely got a look-in last season. Injuries took their toll on the 24-year-old, restricting him to just a pair of starts and just three goals in 13 total league appearances, per WhoScored.com.

His absence saw Alvaro Negredo get much more playing time early last season, and "The Beast" was rampant. This time around, it's the Spaniard who will be missing due to injury, so it's only natural that Jovetic picks up the slack.

As Pellegrini himself noted, the target man's extended absence and the long season that lies ahead make Jovetic's emergence important:

We need four strikers. At this moment, Stevan is working very well but you cannot forget about what Negredo did at the beginning of last year. He is also very important but now, he’s injured.

During the whole year, we play so many games, we need four strikers. In this moment, Stevan and Edin Dzeko are playing very well and it is important players like Stevan and Fernando, who are 100% fit, continue to play the way they did today.

The fact that Aguero hasn't gotten a start yet indicates that he's not quite back to 100 percent himself after his tour of Brazil, meaning the Dzeko-Jovetic duo will see ample playing time in the early stages.

Perhaps an underrated factor in this whole thing is that it can lessen the load on Yaya Toure. The lumbering Ivorian bagged 20 league goals last season and almost single-handedly powered his team to the Premier League title.

However, as noted before, he's looked far off his best in the season's early stages. While Goal.com noted that Toure "strolled through most of the game" in their post-match player ratings, they quite accurately pointed out that he "lacked his customary drive and [was] pretty poor with his defensive positioning."

It was a second almost sluggish performance from the former Barcelona man. He also spent some time in Brazil this summer, but his Ivory Coast side went out at the group stage. The fatigue factor from that short a trip shouldn't be causing this—after all, Edin Dzeko has looked brilliant thus far.

More than likely, it's a combination of that and just being run ragged from being his side's driving force last season.

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The signing of Fernando could certainly help in this regard, as giving the Brazilian duo of he and Fernandinho starting nods can get Toure a much-needed day of rest. But on top of that, having ample attacking threats would lessen the need for over-exertion in midfield.

Jovetic's mobility would allow him to move inside when needed to pick up the ball when won by the midfield destroyers. From there, he can go at it himself or distribute to the likes of Navas, Dzeko, David Silva and Samir Nasri.

Realistically, it might seem plausible to think that Aguero will be back to full fitness soon enough, relegating Jovetic to fewer starting opportunities. But even then, his emergence as a key cog in the City machine gives his side that killer third option that, when the chips are on the table, will make the difference in the long run.

 

Feel free to heap your own praise on Jovetic in the comments section or on Twitter.

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