We’re exactly halfway through the Premier League season and City sit in second place, a very healthy position considering we dropped many points on the road and the players have been adjusting to Pellegrini’s style.
The second half of the season could be even tougher than the first, but the Blues look ready for any challenge. Fatigue and more injuries could be City’s worst enemies in the months to come.
City still have to visit the Emirates, Old Trafford, Anfield, White Hart Lane and Goodison Park while also focusing on other cup competitions including the Champions League double header against Barcelona.
January will put City’s improved away form to the test starting with a trip to Swansea – a ground where City haven’t won in two visits since the Welsh side were promoted. A much improved Newcastle from the one we battered 4-0 on the opening day is another away day on the horizon, as is Spurs who will want revenge for the hammering we gave them in November.
Just the one Premier League home game in January against Cardiff, which should be a routine victory unless their next manager has a magical effect. Outside of the Premier League is a trip to Blackburn in the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup semi final double header against West Ham. City should look to use their stellar home form and put the two-legged tie out of West Ham’s reach before the trip to Upton Park.
An exciting second half of the season awaits, that’s for sure!
January is near which means many transfer rumours. According to Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, Pellegrini is happy with his squad despite City chiefs offering him money to spend. This contradicts some reliable sources who say City will be active in January.
Meanwhile, Goal is reporting today that Nemanja Matić of Benfica and Kurt Zouma of St. Etienne top City’s January wishlist, a list built around defensive players.
According to Goal, City are happy with their attacking talent and feel that Stevan Jovetić can be like a new signing if he stays fit.
The Zouma link isn’t new and we revealed in November that City had put an £11m offer on the table to his club. Chelsea have since made a superior offer, giving St. Etienne something to ponder, but City can compete for any player and could yet make an improved bid.
A bid for Matić featuring Garcia as a makeweight has already been reported by Sky Italia and today’s edition of The Sun has the same story – which could be old information or a sign of an improved part exchange offer in the making.
Matić has the right characteristics for the Premier League and is one of five midfielders profiled here as potential City recruits for the midfield. But like Zouma, he is fancied by Chelsea and there could be competition even if City step up their efforts.
Edin Dzeko, who has faced criticism from Shaun Goater in the last day, is being linked with yet another club.
This one has an added City-related twist with Corriere dello Sport reporting that AC Milan will move for Dzeko if they sell his former City team-mate Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli is again underperforming and not having a great season, leading to speculation he could be sold. CdS reckons Milan would use the funds to bid for Dzeko next summer.
Milan join rivals Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Valencia in being linked with Dzeko. Unless of a breathtaking offer, it seems unlikely that City will want to part ways with Dzeko in January.
As reported on Friday, City’s deal to sign U17 World Cup MVP Kelechi Iheanacho is close to collapsing.
No update on that one, but one of his team-mates from Nigeria’s U17 World Cup winning campaign is set to join City according to FCNaija.
17-year-old right-back Chidiebere Nwakali will fly to Manchester with his parents on January 2 to join City, hopefully with fewer complications than the Iheanacho deal.
Nwakali made 7 appearances in the U17 World Cup for Nigeria, scoring two goals. He is said to be a versatile player and switched between right-back, centre-back, defensive midfielder and attacking midfielder during the competition.
Earlier in December, a third member of the Nigeria U17 team, Chidera Ezeh, was said to be heading to Manchester for talks with the Blues after Liverpool also offered him a deal. There have been no updates on that, but it’s clear that City scouts were impressed by the Golden Eaglets!