EPL: Game on, Chelsea

EPL: Game on, Chelsea
Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal from a penalty kick with Manchester City's French midfielder Samir Nasri (L) and Manchester City's English midfielder Frank Lampard (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Manchester City and Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on November 25, 2014.

After a slow start, EPL champions Man City are back in business

Manchester City are bubbling.

The good news keeps coming through.

The Citizens might have taken their time to catch up, but it's now truly game on, Chelsea.

Sergio Aguero is nearing a return, and so is Edin Dzeko. If all goes well, they will have their full complement of three strikers (along with Stevan Jovetic) fit and available for tomorrow's away clash with Everton.

The department is likely to be further boosted if Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Bony completes an expected move from Swansea.

A month ago, they took on Leicester City and Crystal Palace without a single senior striker. Soon, they may have four.

And, with skipper Vincent Kompany also on the verge of first-team action, the defence will be tightened considerably.

Despite the lengthy injury list, the Citizens have clocked a 13-match unbeaten run, of which they won 11.

Such outstanding form has seen them wipe out Chelsea's advantage.

Two months ago, they languished eight points behind Jose Mourinho's side.

Now, they share top spot with the Blues, equal on points and goal difference.

If Chelsea started the term in top gear, City have eased themselves into full speed.

City have never been found lacking in confidence, but the belief in the camp will be further strengthened by how they have drawn level with Chelsea despite their problems.

Even the tricky festive season schedule couldn't slow their momentum.

Chelsea stumbled into 2015, winning just one out of three matches between Boxing Day and New Year's Day. City, on the other hand, picked up seven points out of a possible nine.

But it is the return of hotshot striker Aguero which will give them the biggest boost.

Before he suffered a knee injury last month, he was on a roll, scoring 19 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions. Despite missing the last five league matches, he remains the Premiership joint-top scorer with 14 strikes.

TIMELY

His return, as well as that of Kompany and Dzeko, comes at the perfect time for City.

It's a tough January league schedule the defending champions are facing.

Following tomorrow's Goodison Park visit, they have a home fixture against Arsenal, before a titanic showdown with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

They will also be without influential midfielder Yaya Toure, who's on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast, for almost the entire month at least.

The Elephants play their final group match on Jan 28, but City will be without Toure's services for longer if Ivory Coast progress all the way to the final on Feb 8.

But, City fans can barely believe their luck.

No Toure, no problem. They have Frank Lampard, who was supposedly on a short-term deal at City before leaving for New York City FC this month.

Somehow, City have managed to put off his move until the end of the English season.

In the absence of Toure, the free-scoring Lampard can provide the goals and drive from midfield.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini must be relishing the games ahead.

Their top stars are back.

The team are in fiery form.

And they have just seized the psychological advantage and, possibly with it, the title initiative back from Chelsea.

Our performance will have to be perfect. City will always take their opportunities. - Everton manager Roberto Martinez, on facing Man City tomorrow

garylim@sph.com.sg

MAN CITY'S NEXT 5 EPL GAMES

Saturday, Jan 10: v Everton (Away)

- Sunday, Jan 18: v Arsenal (Home)

- Saturday, Jan 31: v Chelsea (A)

- Saturday, Feb 7: v Hull ((H)

- Wednesday, Feb 11: v Stoke (A)


This article was first published on JAN 09, 2015.
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