Five things we learned from Manchester City's draw with Sunderland

Manchester City Etihad

The Black Cats stifled their illustrious hosts, whose title threads now hang by a thread after the 2-2 stalemate and here are five things we learned.

Hart attack

When Raheem Sterling turned Vincent Kompany this way and that before slotting past Joe Hart with aplomb to give Liverpool the lead on Sunday, we were all quick to direct the praise at the feet of the young World Cup hopeful.

The World Cup cert, on the other hand, was the man in goal who he beat so comprehensively. Removed from the firing line earlier this season by Manuel Pellegrini after a wretched run of form, Hart was reinvigorated by his prolonged absence and looked to have regained the 2011/2012 season-winning form that had many ranking him as the best in the league. 

So, with Sterling netting with such ease and Connor Wickham's near-post effort strangely allowed to creep into the corner by the City custodian, the alarm bells are all of a sudden ringing once more as Hart's form begins to decline once more.

Pellegrini adds a left-back to the shopping list

For all of Aleksandar Kolarov's attacking gusto, he is lacking in the sort of defensive nous that wins clubs titles. His latest mistake-laden outing laid bare his most glaring weaknesses, namely his positional sense.

The Serb was AWOL for both of Wickham's goals and seemingly neglected his primary role as a defender in favour of the more fashionable work further up the field. One dance through a series of rather non-existent challenges led to a chance for Edin Dzeko, but it was the sum total of his efforts.

With Luke Shaw looking set to depart Southampton this summer after a stunning breakthrough year, it would not surprise many to see Pellegrini update his current roster, with both Kolarov and Gaël Clichy possessing too soft a core.

The curious case of Alvaro Negredo

Ever since sustaining a shoulder injury in the reverse leg of City's Capital One Cup semi-final win over West Ham United, the Spaniard has not looked the same animal, or 'Beast' as City fans would have you call him, in front of goal.

Negredo struck as ponderous against Sunderland, with John O'Shea and Wes Brown particularly revelling in the chance to force him out onto the periphery of the game.

With City toiling badly in the title race, and now looking like nothing more than rank outsiders, Negredo's fall from fearsome frontman to someone so discernibly apprehensive should not be overlooked. It has played out as one of the major factors behind the collective demise.

Fernandinho displays his versatility

With Yaya Toure falling victim to a groin injury midway through the first half of the crushing defeat on Merseyside, a door opened - you assumed primarily - for Javi Garcia.

The Spaniard was largely on the outskirts of City's play however, neat with his passing but not able to have a particularly significant role by a long chalk.

Instead it was left to the power and might of Fernandinho, so impressive at Liverpool and once more so again here tonight, as he tried his utmost to fill the voids of midfield enforcer and playmaker, opened by Toure and Silva's absences, something he achieved in small measure with the opening goal.

Why injuries have taken their toil

Arsenal, whether the critics like it or not, have quite simply wilted under the pressure of a Premier League title race due to an injury crisis.

It has been the same story at Eastlands in recent weeks, where some City fans may now only be just discovering the importance of Silva, Toure and Sergio Agüero in this side.

The triumvirate - akin to Arsenal's respective losses of Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey for extended periods - form the sort of lethal potency that was lacking immensely from City's functional display.

While Liverpool and Chelsea, bar the recent expulsion of Eden Hazard through injury, have enjoyed relatively injury-free seasons and their continued lofty Premier League statuses are testament to that. 

Pellegrini and Wenger will both hate to use the excuse of injuries, but even a squad the size of City's has been stretched and ultimately left devoid of the firepower needed to sustain a challenge.

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