Man City face a test of leadership credentials
MANCHESTER: From a position of strength at the top of the Premier League a week ago, Manchester City suddenly face a test of their staying power against Southampton today. City’s shock 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool last Saturday saw them surrender the lead in the title race, with manager Manuel Pellegrini admitting the performance had been the worst he had seen since his arrival at Eastlands two-and-a-half years ago.
A chance to bounce back in the Champions League on Wednesday was then passed up as City missed a number of decent goalscoring chances and lost 1-0 to Juventus in Turin. As a result, they are no longer guaranteed top spot in Group D with one game to go ahead of next month’s draw for the last 16. And, worryingly, goalkeeper Joe Hart sustained a hamstring injury that forced the England international to be replaced by Willy Caballero.
Hart is crucial to City’s fortunes and his injury is the latest to inflict Pellegrini’s squad, which suddenly looks vulnerable. Captain and defensive leader Vincent Kompany has been badly missed and faces another fortnight out with a calf problem. David Silva’s absence has been just as badly felt, with the Spaniard’s creativity in tandem with top scorer Sergio Aguero, who is yet to play 90 minutes since returning from a seven-match spell out with a hamstring injury, denying City a major weapon. In addition, Samir Nasri is out long-term following an operation on his hamstring, while striker Wilfried Bony could miss the visit of eighth-placed Southampton.