The Ultimate Race For Fourth
Rob Yates sent Vital Manchester City the following.
After the 5-1 thrashing of Birmingham, Manchester City are well and truly in the driving seat for fourth place and a chance to play against Europe's elite next season.
With 14 goals in the last 3 games and just 2 goals conceded City are the form team of the league and 4th is ours to lose. Remaining games however against Man U, Arsenal, Tottenham and Villa mean things aren't 100% yet and we could still miss out on the final Champions League place... This is City after all!
There's no doubt that confidence is high in the squad at present and the poor team spirit that blighted Mark Hughes tenure at the club has seemingly disappeared.
Mancini has brought in a couple of extra players to add to competition for places but hasn't changed things drastically and we are now reaping the rewards. In defence Kompany has been the leader at the back we've craved since Dunne was sold and his presence and brute force provide a good contrast to Toure's more skilful approach. There are also signs of good competition for the full back positions especially after Nedum Onuoha's heroics against Birmingham.
Whilst Vieira hasn't exactly replicated his performances from his Arsenal days, the extra option of the Frenchman has allowed De Jong and Barry to get much needed rests. Mancini has taken the opportunity to rest key players in the last few games in order to make sure they are fit for the remaining matches and De Jong's tenacity will be imperative in the remaining five games. Barry is definitely one player showing signs of rejuvenation and he was in excellent form against Birmingham.
Although we have strength in depth in most areas it is without doubt our attacking players are the envy of the Premier League. With Bellamy, Johnson, Tevez and Adebayor up front we are full of goals and these players, who are all talented in their own right, will be a handful for defences in the upcoming games when playing together. As if those four aren't enough, SWP, Santa Cruz and Ireland will also be desperate to make their mark when given the chance.
Although it's the players who are making the headlines, Mancini also deserves a lot of the credit for tightening up our defence whilst making us more clinical up front. The manager was criticised in the press for his tantrum against Everton however the passion he displayed at the end of that game has seemingly unified the team and we haven't looked back since!
With some tough games coming up, the fans will have one eye on our rival's run-ins. Tottenham have the hardest remaining fixtures and their chances of 4th could have disappeared after games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United. Like City though, they boast some of the best attacking players in the league and a shock win in their next 3 games will boost their confidence again and our final home game of the season against them could be the decider.
Although Liverpool are now 6 points behind City and have played a game more they are still a threat however as they have proved recently though, their chances of getting back into the Champions League all depend on the fitness of Torres. Aston Villa also remain in the hunt for 4th and although they are 8 points behind us they have a game in hand of City now and their players will want to salvage something from their season to get over their League Cup and FA Cup disappointment. Villa also have possibly the easiest run-in.
This season has been very hard to predict for all clubs and there's been many shocks along the way with any team being able to beat another on their day.
With so many issues other than the race for 4th still to be settled, there will still be plenty of twists and turns along the way. As it stands we are in pole position for the final Champions League place and confidence is high in contrast to our rivals Tottenham, Liverpool and Villa. The problem is, every City fan knows of our tendency to press the self destruct button and for the phrase 'typical City' to be heard on the terraces. We have been waiting for a cup final for years and now we potentially have five in a row, starting with the derby on Saturday. Hopefully we will end their dreams and start our own.