I think we’re all – or maybe just me – starting to feel a bit fed up of this season after the run we’ve had in recent weeks, that’s seen us go out of the FA Cup and become a lot less likely to be lifting another league title in May. We’re now sitting 7 points behind Chelsea after some poor results in January, the fact of which is made even more disappointing given that for a brief but beautiful we were top of the league during Spurs’ 5-3 victory over Chelsea on New Years’ Day.
After that day, we started going on a poor run that coincided with the temporary departure of Yaya Touré as he jetted off to the African Cup of Nations. Until last week’s brilliant 4-1 win at Stoke, we were yet to win without him, which probably goes to show his importance even if he didn’t have the best of years last year.
What I want to know however, is can we still win the title this year? Can we retain our title, becoming just the third club in Premier League history to do so?
Admittedly, we could be even further than 7 points behind had we not pulled a great performance out of the bag at Stamford Bridge at the end of last month to get a 1-1 draw. Performances like that (in which we were without Yaya, Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta, who was on the bench but didn’t appear) show that we are still a force to be reckoned with even when we don’t have some of our best players on the field. In an ideal world, I’d choose all three of them to start every game, but to be able to go to possibly the toughest ground in England without those players and come away with a point is impressive.
There is the small matter of ‘form’ that we need to consider when we think about a league challenge. Sergio Agüero has been back from injury for about a month now, but hasn’t looked on his sharpest form as of yet – or at least, he didn’t up until last week’s visit to the Britannia, in which he grabbed two goals and could have had a third had it not been correctly disallowed for handball.
Vincent Kompany has also struggled with patchy form this season, which has led to many City fans believing that Martin Demichelis has been our best central defender this season (who would have thought that would ever be the case after his early time in Manchester). The point is, if the players like Kompany, Mangala and Agüero can gain and then retain the form that they had when we won our last two titles, we should be able to give Chelsea a good run-in for the title. We’ve done it before with United and Liverpool, there’s no reason we can’t do it José Mourinho and his team as well.
Now that the AFCON is over (and Ivory Coast have won, which makes it all the better), it won’t just be Yaya that is returning but the newest signing, Wilfried Bony. You’d struggle not to notice he’d joined from Swansea in January, and his record in south Wales speaks for itself. If he hits it off straight away, he could be a massive player for the title race. My thinking that the reason we signed him last month rather than waiting until the coming summer is so we could involve him in the coming battles. After the amount he scored in his relatively short time at the Liberty, he has shown that he could be a great signing for us – and he can start to show that over the next three months.
I’ll happily hold my hands up and say I’ve been ready to give up hopes of the title on more than one occasion. It’s seemed so out-of-reach on too many occasions for me to count, but I know that the comeback we managed to pull off around Christmastime showed we can push Chelsea for the title. However, there is only three months left and I’m becoming ever more wary that there aren’t many more games for Chelsea to slip up in. That being said, a big injury to Hazard or Costa could give us a huge chance of having sky blue ribbons on that Premier League trophy at the end of the season.