Manchester City were held 1-1 at home to Hull City over the weekend, and Chelsea took full advantage, establishing a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
The Citizens have, in past seasons, made extraordinary comebacks to win the premiership. But with a formidable Chelsea outfit standing in their way, things are looking bleak.
In light of this, today's debate is: Can Manchester City still win the English Premier League title?
Alam Khan, EPL reporter, says YES
Anyone who writes off Manchester City’s Premier League title chances right now must have a short memory.
In 2012 they were eight points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s United with six games left and became champions.
Last season Liverpool led by nine with five games remaining – and still it was City who claimed the crown, again on the final day. They are the comeback kings, and let’s not forget the triumphs of Arsenal in 1998 – 12 points behind with 13 games left – and United who pegged back Newcastle’s 12-point advantage in 1996 with 15 matches to go.
History should offer hope as they try to claw back Chelsea’s seven-point advantage. It’s only February people – there are still 42 points up for grabs.
Chelsea are rightly favourites, but the best teams have cracked under pressure and miracles do happen. City have been inconsistent, but still capable of winning every one of the remaining 14 games in another fairytale finish. To be perfect, though, Manuel Pellegrini has to find the perfect balance in his team.
Yes they need Yaya Toure back to drive them, but the City boss also needs to revert to a proven formula rather than being too drastic with changes. When they won nine successive games in November and December they did it with a system and players
that served him well.
Pellegrini has to stop tinkering to restore confidence. After being impressively dominant in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea the previous week, there was no need for him to make changes against Hull that proved costly in a below-par showing and another draw.
Yes, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko need match fitness, but they should have come off the bench and Jesus Navas and James Milner started.
The latter pair provided attacking energy and much-needed width after coming on, while David Silva was wasted on the left side as Dzeko struggled up front with Sergio Aguero.
With a blank weekend coming up, City’s players should be capable of two games a week.
From now until the end, Pellegrini needs to be sparing with rotation and send out his best men to prove they are the best side.
Matthew Jones, reporter, says NO
Chelsea have long been favourites for the Premier League title but Manchester City being held by Hull on Saturday proves the Blues are in a class of their own.
City’s slip-up at home to the Tigers has been indicative of their campaign and, just like the season following their first top flight title in 44 years in 2011/12, they are failing miserably to defend it.
Chelsea are seven points clear at the top of the table and even though they strengthened significantly last summer, any triumph they crown in a few months’ time will be as much down to a lack of a challenge as it will be their talent.
When Manchester United won the league in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season, critics bemoaned the lack of a true opponent to challenge them. It is a similar story this time around, with Chelsea the standout team. They are head and shoulders above the United team that lifted the 2012/13 Premier League trophy, but they have no worthy adversary.
While Mourinho’s men have been almost flawless, Pellegrini’s players lack any sort of consistency. City won 17 of 19 home games on the way to last season’s title, acquiring 52 points from 57 and dropping just five.
This season, however, fortress Etihad has become a halfway house where any team looks capable of stealing points, City already losing twice and drawing three times at home, defeated by Stoke and held by Burnley and now Hull. They have nine less home points than at this stage last season and already the most they can hope to accrue is 45.
In contrast, Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 games at Stamford Bridge, the only game they haven’t won being the 1-1 draw with City nine days ago.
City have relatively easy home games remaining, but their chances of reducing the gap to Chelsea are hampered by away trips to Anfield, Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and the Britannia Stadium.
City have been shorn of the talents of Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony, away at the African Cup of Nations, while Sergio Aguero has once again struggled with his injury woes, but their poor form appears to be more a lack of heart as opposed
to a lack of firepower.
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