In recent years, Manchester City have always been around the top of the Premier League. That hasn’t changed this season either, but things definitely seem different in comparison with their recent title runs.
Injuries and inconsistency have plagued the usually dominant club from 2015 into 2016 — seriously harming their title chances. In August, their dominant form pointed toward yet another Premier League title come May, but many reasons have shown why that won’t be the case. Here are five of those reasons.
1. Sergio Aguero’s injuries
Sergio Aguero is undoubtedly the best striker in the Premier League, and definitely one of the best across Europe.
He has been a pivotal player in City’s title runs of 2011/2012 and 2013/2014, and when he’s played this year, he’s looked the part yet again (though in recent times, he’s still looked a bit unfit). However, the issue for City is that he isn’t playing enough due to various injury concerns. His five-goal outburst against Newcastle was a display of Aguero’s class, but it’s something we haven’t seen enough of with him off the pitch.
It’ll be evident in the next few reasons that most of City’s other issues revolve around Aguero, but this is the most pertinent one. Manchester City are not the title contenders we consider them to be without their star man, no matter who else they put on the pitch.
2. The supporting cast up front
Wilfried Bony has been under plenty of scrutiny since joining Manchester City from Swansea City last January, and for good reason.
Despite some solid performances in a City shirt, Bony has not put forth the production expected out of someone playing in place of Aguero. With the departure of Edin Dzeko to Roma over the summer, faith was put in Bony to be Aguero’s main understudy, and even partner at times, but he’s failed to impress.
Alongside Bony, City have plenty of unproven finishers. Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure are midfielders who have decent goalscoring touch, but can’t be considered major outlets in that category. David Silva is more of a creator than a scorer, and despite solid form, Raheem Sterling still hasn’t quite found consistent shooting boots from the wing. As for Kelechi Iheanacho, while he’s been impressive in his cameo roles, it’s hard to see City sticking with him up front.
Whether Aguero is playing or not, his supporting cast must contribute goals as well, and that has been hard to come by for City this season, perhaps exploiting a weakness that will prevent them from another Premier League title.
3. Inconsistent results
While Manchester City have exerted dominance over some of the lowly Premier League clubs, they’ve had their trouble with some mid table teams.
They were blown out at home by Liverpool, as well as beaten at the Etihad by West Ham United. A bad performance in a 2-0 loss at Stoke displayed their troubles away from home, and they were beaten by title contenders Arsenal and Tottenham (perhaps another reason City aren’t going to win the title).
As it stands, they’ve only won once in their last seven away games — a run that saw them lose three times as well. Yes, City have crushed Newcastle, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Sunderland at home, but their away performances have been far shakier. They’ll still have to travel to Anfield and Stamford Bridge (with a resurging Chelsea), as well as tricky trips to West Ham and Southampton, to name a few.
If their away form continues we may see more points dropped by the Citizens, and things could get even worse if they are unable to defeat Spurs, Arsenal, Leicester City and more at the Etihad. City’s inconsistency is an enormous roadblock holding them back from a serious title surge.
4. Defensive issues
Manchester City may have one of the Premier League’s top keepers in Joe Hart along with a phenomenal defender in their skipper, Vincent Kompany, but they’ve shown plenty of weaknesses defending in the back.
Kompany’s prolonged injury absence only intensified those weaknesses as well, with Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi not quite filling his shoes, with the latter struggling to impress in his debut season. Martin Demichelis’ age presents another issue for City’s central defense.
Aleksander Kolarov has done well going forward, especially linking up with Raheem Sterling on the left flank, but his overwillingness to go forward has exposed City’s left side on numerous occasions. Overall, City are far more composed with their captain in the center, and lost without him. Much like the situation with Aguero, even when Kompany is on the pitch, his supporting cast are prone to mistakes. The more mistakes they make, the more it comes back to haunt City and keep them out of the title race.
5. The rest of the Premier League
Although it is one of the more open title races in recent memory, there are clubs that stand out as legitimate contenders to hoist the Premier League trophy in May.
Even though City currently sit three points from the top, they could be considered behind the likes of Arsenal and Spurs in the title race. Both London clubs are far more sound defensively and have keepers at the same level as Joe Hart in Petr Cech and Hugo Lloris, respectively. Spurs have been spearheaded by Harry Kane in attack and are becoming very consistent under Mauricio Pochettino.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have looked very good with Olivier Giroud up top and Mesut Ozil in the form of his life. To make things even more daunting is the fact Alexis Sanchez has been injured for a while and will be returning soon.
Again, it’s by all means an open title race, but with those two clubs off and running and City possibly headed the other way, chances of another Premier League trophy in Manchester are slimming. Things always do change in the crazy world that is the Barclays Premier League, but as of now. it looks like it could be a North London title race, with no room for Manchester City.