Preview: Manchester City v Crystal Palace (16/01/2016)

Written by Jack Pierce

PuncheonAnother round of fixtures and more dropped points for Manchester City.

With Arsenal dropping two points in injury time at Anfield, a Manchester City win against Everton would've seen Manuel Pellegrini's side top the league for the first time since mid-December. Alas, they couldn't beat Tim Howard and for the second time in a week, Pellegrini failed to get the better of Roberto Martinez so City remain third behind Arsenal and Leicester City.

In three of their last six league games, City have dropped points, failing to display the sort of consistency often associated with potential title winners.

They're by no means out of the title race but must improve performances and consistency quickly if they are to win their third title in five seasons.

City have the resources to win the league this season and won't view the current three point gap between them and the top of the table as much of an obstacle. If any of the current top three put any sort of decent run together between now and the end of the season, they'll be in a great position to win the title that most seem to be intent on not winning.

The key for City is getting the best out of their most important players. In fairness, they've hardly been able to field three of their most influential players in Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero throughout the season so far and any team in the world would suffer with their absences. While Silva and Aguero have returned to first team action, Kompany remains an absentee.

Having returned to match action against Sunderland on Boxing Day, the centre back lasted less than ten minutes before having to leave the field with a calf injury, an injury that could keep him out until ‘the last part of the season’ according to Pellegrini. Kompany is becoming a serious cause of concern for City. While his class has been there for all to see in the past, his bad luck with injuries is beginning to have a real impact on his team. If fit, the Belgian is one of the first names on the team sheet and City's recent defensive purchases have also been influenced by the captain as they wish to sign defenders who will complement Kompany.

The likes of Eliaquin Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi have both been signed for a lot of money and meant to form a partnership with Kompany. With the captain unavailable, the Frenchman and Argentinean have been played together but knowing that as soon as Kompany is fit, he'll be put straight back in the side. Such a psyche can't be conducive for a solid, resolute partnership forming and that has proven to be the case this season with City, at times, looking fairly ropey at the back.

Having been part of the most successful period of the club's history, Yaya Toure gets a lot of praise from City supporters and it's often suggested by those same fans Toure doesn't get the respect he deserves from fans of other clubs.

If Toure doesn't get the levels of respect that he might warrant from non-City fans, the simple reason is he's a knob.

From his famous birthday cake strop to his recent rant about not winning the latest African Player of the Year; the bloke is just awful. If City were walking over every team they come across courtesy of Toure's bulldozing performances in the middle of the park, that would be ok but they're not.

He has moments of pure class in his locker; his consolation goal at The Emirates just before Christmas was a thing of beauty but his performance in the 80 minutes prior to that moment had been abhorrent. His lackadaisical approach often sees opponents wander past him leaving his side exposed. Perhaps he shouldn't be being deployed in a central midfield two but if he is, he must tailor his style to benefit his side.

Come the summer, if Toure wants to move on, I'm not sure whether City would object to the point they did when Toure and his agent massaged a story about a birthday cake into the storm it became.

We're most likely into the last few months of Manuel Pellegrini's spell in charge of Manchester City. With Pep Guardiola's announcement that he was to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the campaign came the sound of Pellegrini's P45 being slammed on his table.

Ok, it hasn't yet been confirmed that Guardiola's next stop is The Etihad but according to varying sources, everything is in place for Guardiola to arrive before the start of next season. Txiki Begiristain and Fettan Soriano are both very senior figures at City and are also both close with Guardiola. While two and two could make seven, it seems having friends in high places at the club has swayed Guardiola to join the Abu-Dhabi funded machine instead of the red half of Manchester, Chelsea or Arsenal.

That's all to come for City and their fans so for the time being all they should be concentrating on is getting a few wins together starting with our lot visiting on Saturday.

While I'd obviously prefer not to see a repeat of the 5-1 hammering we were on the end of in October, at least we'd see Palace score a bloody goal...

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