How Manchester City Can Crack the Big Four
Last season, Manchester City were miserable to watch.
Aimless long balls, inaccurate passes, and wasted opportunities added up to very boring football. If not for the solid defensive duo of Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne, City may well have been relegated.
But all that has changed.
An overhauled roster has revitalised the team, and even underachievers like Mpenza and Hamann are finally showing why Stuart Pearce opted to recruit them.
Still, a big question remains: Can City break the stranglehold at the top of the table—and actually force Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Liverpool down to UEFA Cup misery?
As an Arsenal fan, I'd love for that to happen (as long as my Gunners weren't involved)...but unfortunately I think it's highly unlikely.
Man City's starting 11 might be good, but it can't compare with the other Big Four sides. And if you look to the bench, the difference only gets more pronounced.
Sven-Goran Eriksson is usually quite shrewd in the transfer market, but he's overlooked the need for a backup to Martin Petrov at left wing.
It would be a disaster if the Bulgarian were to get hurt. Some might argue that Ishmael Miller could step in, but I don't think he's up to the task.
There also seems to be an over-reliance on Elano to run the offense. Opponents are bound to get a handle on the Brazilian eventually—and when they do (or if Elano gets hurt) City's attack will be stifled.
On the right wing, Ireland drifts in too often, making it easier for defenses to focus on Petrov and Elano. Backup is thin there too; Vassell is the only viable candidate.
City's flaws haven't come back to bite them yet—but that's because they've been underestimated by their opposition. Once they start showing Big Four form, they're likely to be severely tested.
And I'm not sure they're ready for it.
All that said, squad depth can be improved with intelligent signings. A good right-winger and a backup for Petrov could get City over the hump.
Until then, neutrals and City fans alike should just sit back and enjoy the entertaining show.
And when an Arsenal fan says he's entertained by another team, you know they must be playing cracking football.
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