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Can Manchester City hold their nerve to win the title?

Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta believes the destiny of the Premier League title is in his team's hands

Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta believes the destiny of the Premier League title is in his team’s hands

My question seems a simple one, but maybe it is not.

Manchester City currently sit six points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea in the table, but the Citizens have three games in-hand on the Blues.

Win those three games and City will be in control of the league.

Advantage City

Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta believes that the race for the title is now in City’s hands.

The Argentinian international told Sky Sports: “Hopefully, it won’t be the same as last time we won the title because it is going to be difficult.

“But as I have said before, we just need to keep focused on what we are doing now. We need to try to win every game but everything is in our hands.

“We don’t have an excuse now. We only have Premier League games and we have time to recover well between the games. We know it is going to be very tough until the end but we have a great team, we have belief enough to win this title.

“Everything depends on us. We just need to keep working hard and winning games. Hopefully we can celebrate something at the end of this season.”

Nerve

It is now all about City holding their nerve in the final stretch of the season. Zabaleta is correct, as the numbers suggest that if City wins all their remaining games then they will win the Premier League title. However, it will not as simple as that for the Citizens.

Tough

Manuel Pellegrini’s side face some tough away games, starting with a trip to reigning champions and arch-rivals Manchester United on Tuesday night. United are realistically out of the hunt for the Champions League places, unless something dramatic happens and Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham all capitulate in the remaining months of the season.

The best the Red Devils can hope for is to finish in the Europa League positions, which will probably mean finishing in the top six. United have endured a terrible first season under boss David Moyes, but have won their last two games.

They would love nothing better than to put a spanner in the works of their local rivals title hopes this season. Old Trafford has not been the fortress it once was this season, but those United players will be determined to make it difficult for City to win the title.

Pellegrini’s men also have trip to Arsenal to look forward to at the weekend. The Gunners title hopes may be fading, but they will be looking to at least stay in touch with the top teams with a victory over the Citizens.

City also still have to visit Everton and Liverpool before the season finishes. Everton are a tough team to beat on their home patch and have won their last eight games at home in all competitions this season.

Liverpool meanwhile are absolutely on fire. The Reds have won their last six top-flight games to put themselves right in the thick of the title race and current sit second in the table, above City.

Defence

One factor that will give City confidence heading into the next two difficult fixtures is their defensive record. The Citizens have kept clean sheets in their last four top-flight games and conceded just one in their last five.

The defensive resolve that City possessed during their title winning season seems to have returned and have the second best defensive record in the Premier League.

Hard way

If Manchester City comes through all the remaining difficult fixtures to claim the Premier League title then they will have done it the hard way. The Citizens have ten games remaining and it will be difficult for them to win all ten, but that is what champions do.

I suspect there are a few more twists and turns left in this season’s title race. I am also sure that Manchester City are very unlikely to have it their own way in all the remaining games of the season.

This season’s title race is well and truly on and Manchester City cannot be written-off, even if the Citizens have the hardest run-ins of the top four, they are still well capable of gaining the points needed to be champions come the end of the season.

Can Manchester City hold their nerve to win the title?

Mon 24 March, 2014
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