CAN ANYONE STOP CITY?

 
Trevor Steven
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The men in Blue sit proudly atop the Premier League and are favourites for the title. But what chance do their rivals stand? City A.M. assesses the pack

DEFEAT to Chelsea might have raised questions about Manchester City’s assault on the Premier League but they answered those triumphantly by beating Arsenal on Sunday. They showed trademark resilience to see off a side who pushed them hard, and added to the feeling that the Etihad Stadium is becoming a fortress.

City have won all eight of their home league games this season and if they can maintain that kind of consistency the likelihood is that they will be very difficult to stop.

David Silva netted the winner at the weekend, underlining the fact that they boast a range of scorers.

They are the firm favourites, but the title is far from won yet, and some of the chasing pack, particularly Manchester United and, I believe, Tottenham, are still in with a good chance.

MANCHESTER UNITED

OVERVIEW
Despite concerns about defence and the goalkeeping situation, I fancy United to push City hard. They are going to need everyone playing well, but there were encouraging signs at QPR.

SHOULD THEY BUY?
They have struggled to replace Paul Scholes, so a creative midfielder would be a great addition. In that light, links with the likes of Ajax’s Christian Eriksen make sense.

KEY MAN
Wayne Rooney needs to recreate the goalscoring form of early season but if he can United will never be far away.

CHANCES 8/10

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

OVERVIEW
Having failed to make the Champions League and had to fend off bids for Luka Modric, few tipped Spurs to thrive – but they have, so credit to Harry Redknapp. Their focus is making the top four but they’re quietly confident and I’d love to see them keep up pressure on those around them.

SHOULD THEY BUY?
Redknapp is always good at unearthing a signing or two but I’m not sure they need to change anything, having plugged the biggest gap by signing Scott Parker in the summer.

KEY MAN
Gareth Bale is important, as is keeping Emmanuel Adebayor fit, but the most important player has to be Modric. With him on form they have a chance of beating anyone in the division.

CHANCES 7/10

CHELSEA

OVERVIEW
Beating City last week was a major result in what has been a mixed season. Daniel Sturridge has done well but they seem light on goals and I struggle to see them winning the title.
SHOULD THEY BUY?
No. The summer purchase of Oriol Romeu, who has replaced John Obi Mikel, has brought strength and purpose.

KEY MAN
Didier Drogba is in form now but, at 33 and with the African Cup of Nations looming, can’t be relied on all season, so much depends on Fernando Torres delivering the goals expected of a £50m striker.

CHANCES 6/10

ARSENAL

OVERVIEW
Having lost at City I don’t think they have much hope of the title, but they can put a run of five wins together, so remain in the hunt. Serious doubts remain over what happens if Robin van Persie gets injured.

SHOULD THY BUY?
Arsenal could really use a deep-lying attacker with a left bias – like a Juan Mata or David Silva. Andrey Arshavin is a disaster now when they need him to ease the burden on Van Persie.

KEY MAN
Van Persie has been absolutely fantastic this year but it’s never been more important he stays fit.

CHANCES 6/10

LIVERPOOL

OVERVIEW
The Reds will be happy with where they are and are in a good position to make inroads into the top four, but I worry about a lack of goals.

SHOULD THEY BUY?
No. They have a consistency already, they just need some recent big buys, like Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, to contribute more.

KEY MAN
Luis Suarez is their livewire. He’s spiky and must be a pain to mark, but if he doesn’t score they will struggle.

CHANCES 6/10