Man City face a test of lead­er­ship cre­den­tials

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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.

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