Manchester City have been in scintillating form at the Etihad this season, they have managed to win every game at home except for a single defeat to European champions Bayern Munich. The Citizens have netted a league record of 26 goals in their first six home games but still find themselves six points off leaders Arsenal.
However, it has been a completely different story on the road for City this season where they have only managed four points from a possible 18. The away form has been abysmal this season including defeats to Cardiff City, Sunderland, Aston Villa and a draw away at Stoke City. Chelsea away is perhaps the only defeat they could have envisaged but if they are to clinch the title this season the form needs to change and quickly.
Reasons for the poor away record
The towering Belgian has suffered two different injuries this season; a groin injury and after returning he then injured his hamstring in the 3-1 win over Everton. Any side would miss a centre-half of his calibre but as captain it has been a double blow for City. The centre-half has only made six appearances in all competitions and this has seriously affected Pellegrini who has experimented with several different pairings during the course of the season. He has even opted to field Javi Garcia at centre-half which has often backfired and when the midfielder has played in his usual holding role he has underperformed more often than not. Garcia has played in three of the four league defeats and also played every minute of the draw at Stoke and many think he may depart in January. It is rumoured that Napoli are watching the 26-year-old and it may be wise for Pellegrini to cut his losses as it is apparent the midfielder has failed to settle to life in England.
Over reliant on the front pairing
Edin Dzeko enjoyed a fine pre-season but since Alvaro Negredo has found his feet in Manchester the partnership between himself and Sergio Aguero has been frightening. The pair seem to be at ease when playing together and currently have 27 goals between them in all competitions this season. Dzeko just doesn’t seem to link up with Aguero like the Spaniard and although he has netted seven times in 13 games he often scores and ends up on the losing side. City are still waiting for Stevan Jovetic to return to fitness and will be hoping that goal-scoring prowess at the Etihad can be repeated on their travels in the coming weeks.
Joe Hart’s bizarre loss of form and confidence
Perhaps the biggest talking point of the lot, arguably one of the division’s most reliable stoppers remarkable decline during 2013. In the defeat to Cardiff, Hart came out flapping at a cross and was left red-faced as Fraizer Campbell headed home. He followed this up against Aston Villa where he decided to fly off his line and close down Andreas Weimann who poked the ball past the keeper and took all three points for Villa. Hart was then at fault in the defeat to Bayern Munich where he had a dire game and many feel this was where Pellegrini’s patience wore thin with the England number one. I have been watching Hart for years and although he can make some fantastic saves you always feel that a mistake or rush of blood is only around the corner, similar characteristics to Pepe Reina. His decision to rush of his line against Chelsea was the last straw and has spent the last few weeks watching Costel Pantilimon between the sticks for City. However, he played last night against Viktoria Plzen and although he conceded twice he looked solid throughout. City fans will be hoping the 26-year-old can get back to the level he was at as a title challenge requires a solid number one who can be relied upon.