Manchester City: Five early Christmas presents

Posted by Simon Curtis

City's unnecessarily close but in reality smooth-as-silk performance at West Brom and a number of other recent developments have presented us all with a clearer picture of what we might expect for Christmas and beyond.

- Mooney: Cruise nearly capsizes in needed away win

Here are five early present ideas:

1. A Captain is not just for Christmas: Vincent Kompany's return to City's defence at The Hawthorns did not stop 3,000 away fans from watching his every move extremely closely, looking for those telltale signs that a hamstring had snapped or a patella had popped out of place. Kompany allowed himself to partake of a number of sliding tackles and robust challenges and walked off at the end without any sign of a limp or a hobble. There can be little doubt, despite the late wobbles in the West Midlands, that City's defence is a better unit with Kompany marshalling it. There have been so many changes to personnel in this department that continuity and water-tight defending will be perhaps the biggest present Manuel Pellegrini can give the faithful this Christmas.

2. No departures: Pellegrini seems in no great hurry to ship anyone out during the upcoming transfer window. This is good news for the likes of Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko, who might have expected to be named surplus to requirements. Both have had run-outs recently and will only gain momentum and confidence by feeling a part of the manager's plans for the second half of the season, whether it be as a squad player or a first-team regular.

3. An easy away win! Although City have managed victories on Tyneside, in Moscow and Plzen, as well as in East London, reading all that has been said about Pellegrini's side on their travels, one is tempted to think nothing has been gained at all. Up until the last five minutes of the game at West Brom, this had been perhaps the most convincing display on the road so far. It has already been said that decent performances at Cardiff, Villa and Chelsea were ultimately undone by individual errors and moments of slapstick sloppiness. All in all those matches comprised much to praise them. Now City have added scoring more goals than their hosts to their repertoire, while all ills have not exactly been banished, supporters can at least rejoice in the new found confidence that this is sure to bring.

4. New Year and still in Europe: This will be a new experience for everyone. For once there is not a single fan long enough in the tooth to say they were there when City took to the fields of Europe for a Champions League/European Cup fixture after the month of January. The simple reason for this is it has never happened before. Now, that's a present that will have to go at the end of the bed, because it is far too big to fit in the average sock.

5. A season to remember: My prediction in August was that Pellegrini would bring us a season to remember with goals flying in from all directions. This has been delivered in amounts beyond most people's expectations, with an avalanche of scoring not matched since Sunderland went goal crazy back in 1936. The likelihood is that City will not be able to keep up this fantastic scoring rate, but Pellegrini has set up the side to attack relentlessly, press early and ferociously when without the ball and to never let up. Only Manchester United were let off the hook, when City began to canter after an hour of the rollicking first Manchester Derby of the season at the Etihad. With so many options, so many high class players on top of their form, teams will visit the blue half of Manchester with more than mere trepidation in 2014. The clever money says Arsenal cannot maintain their glorious early season form, that Chelsea will continue to rumble forward like a tank rather than a Maserati and that the others will probably begin to fall away into an unseemly scrap for the last Champions League place, leaving the front three to gallop for the line. City go to Leicester in the Capital One Cup, await their fate in Europe once they have finished in Bavaria next week and are on the coat tails of the leaders in the league. There is plainly more to come from this fantastic side. A final choice on the goalkeeping issue, more continuity in personnel at the back and a continuation of the magic and mastery produced by Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Alvaro Negredo and the phenomenal Sergio Aguero going forward and this 2013-2014 season might just bring us close to the highs experienced on Sunday 13th May 2012.

For many, it is difficult to imagine that afternoon's climax ever being bettered, but Pellegrini's swashbuckling side are busy working on it.

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