Man City ti­tle hopes hit by Nor­wich stale­mate

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

A res­o­lute Nor­wich City placed a sig­nif­i­cant dent in Manch­ester City's Premier League ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Car­row Road on Satur­day. Manch­ester City en­joyed plenty of pos­ses­sion, but aside from a Ser­gio Aguero ef­fort that was su­perbly saved by John Ruddy in the first half, they cre­ated pre­cious lit­tle. It could have been so much worse for Manuel Pel­le­grini's side had Pa­trick Bam­ford's 25-yard half-vol­ley that crashed against the wood­work just be­fore the break been a frac­tion lower. Nor­wich re­main in the bot­tom three, below fourth-bot­tom Sun­der­land on goal dif­fer­ence, while Manch­ester City are now nine points be­hind lead­ers Le­ices­ter City, who host Rafael Ben­itez's New­cas­tle United on Mon­day.

The re­sult also jeop­ar­dised the vis­i­tors' hopes of Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion, which would be an em­bar­rass­ing sce­nario ahead of Pep Guardi­ola's ar­rival as man­ager.

Manch­ester City be­gan with a 4-4-2 for­ma­tion, the mus­cu­lar pres­ence of Wil­fried Bony pro­vid­ing sup­port for 21-goal striker Aguero in at­tack. Im­me­di­ately the vis­i­tors took charge of pos­ses­sion, with David Silva drift­ing in from the left flank to link the at­tack, while Je­sus Navas pro­vided width on the right.

Nor­wich had claimed just one point from their pre­vi­ous nine league matches - their worst run since 1946 - and they looked edgy in the open­ing ex­changes against a team who had won 3-0 at Car­row Road in the FA Cup ear­lier in the sea­son. It was cer­tainly a safety-first ap­proach from man­ager Alex Neil, whose 4-2-3-1 for­ma­tion quickly re­verted to a 4-5-1 when Nor­wich lost the ball. Ruddy, the Nor­wich goal­keeper, was called into his first se­ri­ous ac­tion on 15 min­utes when he un­con­vinc­ingly tipped Aguero's swerv­ing free-kick over the bar af­ter Gary O'Neil was pe­nalised for a push on Fer­nand­inho. Aguero, who has five goals in five ap­pear­ances against Nor­wich, then flashed an an­gled low drive just wide of Ruddy's left-hand post from 18 yards. The Ar­gen­tine striker was an ex­cel­lent out­let for the vis­i­tors and he forced a ter­rific low save from Ruddy af­ter wrig­gling free of Timm Klose. Nor­wich, though, led by the ex­cel­lent Klose, were res­o­lute in de­fence and snapped into tack­les as they be­gan to squeeze their op­po­nents back.

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