Can Manchester City Recover From Its Poor Form?
Recent poor form has dragged reigning Premier League champions Manchester City into a fight for the top four. Manuel Pellegrini's side have won just three out of nine league matches in 2015 and Saturday's loss to relegation-threatened Burnley leaves them within four points of exiting the top four.
Despite looking clear favourties to finish second, recent results have meant that Manchester City will be fighting for their Champions League future. Pellegrini's team travel to Barcalona on Wednesday, looking to overhaul a 2-1 aggregate deficit in hopes of reaching their first Champions League quarter-final in the club's history. There is still a very slim chance that City will qualify for the next year's Champions League by winning the prestigious European trophy this season.
City's poor form started when crucial midfielder Yaya Toure left to join Ivory Coast on international duty, whilst they were participating in the African Cup of Nations - in which they truimphed with Toure captaining them to glory. During this period, City dropped points to Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea and Hull and also went out of the FA Cup after a shock home loss to Championship outfit Middlesbrough.
Just before Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony arrived back from international duty, City beat Mark Hughes' Stoke 4-1 away at the Britania - the first league game that City have won without Toure since April. This motivated City to a 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle at the Etihad and hopes were high for their Champions League Round of 16 first leg. However, motivation suddenly fell after City were beaten 2-1 by Barcelona and have lost two of their three matches since. The main question is: Can City recover?
Although retaining this season's Premier League title appears extremely unlikely, former Southampton and Reading manager Nigel Adkins said that he believes City are still in the race for the title - and he's not wrong.
If Chelsea were to lose their game in hand to struggling Leicester, they would lead the Premier League by six points with eight games still to play - the same deficit that City overturned when they snatched the title from arch-rivals Manchester United three years ago. However, by the same standard, this would mean that all of the top four are still in the race for the title.
Pellegrini's men, in my opinion, will have to win all of their eight remaining games if they are to stand any chance to retain the world renowned Premier League, but chances of recovery are still possible. Pellegrini refuses to admit to the press that his job in danger but it clearly is, so he will be desparate to gain any points possible and progress in the Champions League as far as possible.
To conclude, I have a serious doubt that City's season will improve but I feel that their squad and mentality is strong enough to guide themselves to a second-place finish. Unfortunately, this is highly-likely to result in the dismissal of Manuel Pellegrini unless he defeats Barcelona in Spain on Wednesday.