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Manchester City vs. Sunderland: Dzeko Proves He'll Be Crucial to Citizens' Hopes

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2013

Edin Dzeko deserves a chance at firing Manchester City towards Premier League glory.

The towering Bosnian—who netted a stunning winner during the recent Asia Cup final against Sunderland—has paid his dues at a club that continually undervalues his effectiveness. Manuel Pellegrini's men laboured to a 1-0 win over Paolo Di Canio’s impressive Black Cats, and like many times before, it was Dzeko who powered home the telling punch.

Penalty miss aside, the 27-year-old forward looked extremely hungry during another successful preseason showing. The former Wolfsburg star single-handedly thrust his side towards the promotional trophy and also netted the only goal during the 1-0 semifinal win against South China.

Despite Simon Jones of The Daily Mail reporting Dzeko is a target for Atletico Madrid and The Mirror's David Anderson believing Napoli could weigh in for a transfer, the unassuming player has kept quiet during a time of uncertainty.

When perpetual nuisances such as Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez continued whining their way onto the Etihad pitch, Dzeko calmly focused on playing football and scoring important goals whenever he was given the chance to shine.

Now his career sits at an important crossroads.

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Manuel Pellegrini cannot afford to lose Dzeko, even with the recent additions of Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic. He is a proven goal scorer at all levels of the game, notching an impressive 14 goals in 16 starts and 16 substitute appearances during the 2012-13 Premier League season, as recorded by Whoscored.com.

Similar to Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, Dzeko’s brilliance from the bench has forced many into outlining him as a “Super Sub.” This is a dangerous tag to embody in the modern game, something the player knows too well. After scoring the opening goal in October 2012’s 2-1 win over Fulham, he battled against the application of such a branding, as reported by The Daily Mail:

The manager is there to pick the team and I'm there when the team needs me.

But I was never a super-sub even before I came to Manchester City. I always used to play from the beginning (for Wolfsburg) and I scored a lot of goals - not as a sub.

In the last few games the situation has been like this and I'm just happy to be scoring goals.

Dzeko has failed to hold down a regular starting place since and is entering a critical point of his City career. With Balotelli and Tevez carted off to Serie A, he now has the chance to form a prosperous partnership alongside Sergio Aguero in the team's starting lineup.

Both Negredo and Jovetic will need time to settle, providing Pellegrini with the perfect opportunity to install an experienced little and large combination up front for the Citizens.

The Chilean manager may be tempted to utilise his new strikers with immediate effect, but Dzeko must be called upon to start most Premier League games. He possesses pace, is physically strong and naturally opens attacking play up with key layoffs.

Now Jesus Navas is set to bomb down the club's right flank, Dzeko's willingness to bring his teammates into the game will provide vital space not only for the Spanish speedster, but for a City midfield that is being built to control possession through the powerful presence of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho.

The 2009-10 Bundesliga title winner and winner of the Golden Boot also offers lethal finishing from a variety of situations, as his aerial ability and accuracy when striking the ball often gives keepers little chance of stopping a City celebration.

This is a man who regularly rescued the club's title ambitions throughout last season. His goals and assists produced extra points against Southampton, Queens Park Rangers, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham, Norwich, Liverpool and Aston Villa. While others moaned and succumbed to injury, Dzeko continued to offer his side an effective outlet when Roberto Mancini deemed it necessary.

It is easy to fancy distant targets in football. Previous links to Edinson Cavani, Lewandowski and Radamel Falcao may have excited City fans, but they have a ready-made star waiting in the wings. Pellegrini is the man to finally unleash Dzeko as the main star of the Etihad show, as reported by Sky Sports.

Everyone was talking before I arrived that we will bring in Cavani, Lewandowski, all those players. But I always trusted in Edin Dzeko and he is now playing the way I want. I am sure he will continue improving.

With one fierce thrash of his left boot against Sunderland, Dzeko has reminded everyone of his immense talent. Most importantly, he still has the determination to improve at Manchester City. Pellegrini can maximise his player's attributes and confidence by giving him responsibility within the team, outlining him as a key man and allowing the striker a consistent run of games.

If Dzeko continues to get overlooked, City fans may have to sit back and watch as his full potential is unlocked elsewhere, just like we've seen with the club's former bully-berating, dart-throwing and ever-explosive fireworks enthusiast.

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