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Surely Manchester City's title race has all but run it's course?

 

The romantics amongst you may have been hoping that Manchester City can recreate their endeavors from last season's title run in and once again usurp their neighbours to Premier League glory. 

But after Saturday's 3-1 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Southampton, the prospects of a comeback happening this season look bleak indeed.

Several factors from last season's run in are different this season, but one thing that remains relatively the same is City's squad. But that in itself now seems to be a problem. Minimum investment over the summer has seen the Champions look rather stale at times, Saturday a prime example,  with only two defenders in Maicon and Nastatic, and a midfielder in Garcia adding fresh faces to the regular first team.

Maicon has been hampered by injury for weeks, and whilst Nastatic has acquitted himself surprisingly well to the Premier League for someone so young, they are hardly the headline grabbing signings that were made across Manchester.

Yes, if one thing has been crucial this year in the title race, it has been Robin Van Persie. Mancini himself has admitted that he is the difference maker at this time, and he's not wrong. Another sublime season for the Dutchman after his 24 million pound move from Arsenal in the summer, and he already looks to have been worth every penny. 

For last season was as much about United's capitulation as it was City's revival. United slipped up in the run in, but with RVP in the side, they never look like throwing away a game. Despite picking up the bad habit of going behind in many games this year, the threat of RVP with any of his fellow strikers in Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, or Javier Hernandez, has been too much, thus far, for anyone to handle. Put simply, United are playing like champions.

And then you look at City's four strikers, or three now, after 'Super' Mario's departure in January left City with only Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, and Sergio Aquero up front. Not a bad front three in anyone's book, but people forget about Tevez's dramatic return from his self-imposed exile late last season to help his team, which visibly galvanized the side. Tevez,  having been their talisman for so long before he didn't want to get off the bench in Munich, but this season, he's just Carlos Tevez again.

More practically too, if City play two of these players up front every game, they will be vulnerable to injuries, and if even one is sidelined, City look to be without a plan B at this point. Some might argue they'd rather have three strikers than keep media magnet Balotelli in the side, and whilst he goal return was meager this season, he was the one who put Aguero through to win the game against QPR last year. Only time will tell if a little bit of quality such as that pass could cost City.

Whilst the final run in of the season is relatively straight forward, finishing the season at home to Norwich, before that they still have to play Everton and Spurs, away, and home ties against Chelsea, and of course, Manchester United in April.

With Chelsea and Spurs in particular now in reaching distance of City, and the fight for a Champions League spot more intense than it has been for years, perhaps it is time for City to start looking over their shoulder, because in front of them United are surely by now, out of sight.
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