Are Manchester City really still in the title race?

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists he still believes his team can retain the Premier League title this season.

This week one of his most important players Yaya Toure came out and asserted his belief that City can still catch rivals Manchester United, despite being 12 points behind the league leaders with just 11 games left to go.

“We needed 12 wins and we have to keep on going because we don’t know the future and you can’t say it is finished,”  Toure told The Metro this week.

“We know we have a big calendar – more difficult than them – but we have to keep going and try and win matches.”

Toure is indeed correct that season is far from finished, especially as there is still another Manchester derby t be played at Old Trafford.

However, I struggle to share his belief that City can still catch United – given the form the leaders are in – and, although their comprehensive victory over Chelsea at the Etihad last weekend will have boosted their confidence and morale after some disappointing results, I still feel it is City, not United, who will be the most likely to drop points as we head in to the ‘business end’ of the season.

United still have all four of their strikers available for selection – Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, and Danny Welbeck have all firing on all cylinders this term – and it’s hard to imagine where and how United could drop points, especially now that captain Nemanja Vidic has returned to their back lines.

It is true, however, that United have not necessarily been the better or the best team in a number of their fixtures this season but, in many ways, it is that which makes me feel they will claim the title – they have won even when they haven’t played as well as we know they can. They’ve put points on the board even when they haven’t been the better team on the day.

Are Manchester City deluded to think that they can still catch United? No, certainly, not – until it is mathematically impossible, they still have a chance. However, I can’t help but feel that chance grows slimmer and slimmer each week and it won’t be long before United are crowned champions.

Toure mentioned fixtures – their calendar – and you have to point to that as City’s only glimmer of hope. United’s Champions League ambitions, along with their FA Cup challenge could foreseeably be something of a distraction but Sir Alex Ferguson will use the squad he has at his disposal to combat that as and where he can.

There are 11 games to go – one of them can be considered a ‘six-pointer’ – United would have to lose four of their remaining games and City would have to win all of their. It’s been done before. But City are running out of time to ensure it happens again.

images: © edwin11, © Gene Hunt

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