Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

BLUES OWE IT ALL TO DEMI AND CO ; How City's Defence and Not Their Strikeforce Have Proved to Key to Title Charge

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

BLUES OWE IT ALL TO DEMI AND CO ; How City's Defence and Not Their Strikeforce Have Proved to Key to Title Charge

Article excerpt

IT would be an odd twist if a season dominated by goals, and scorers of them, is decided by the defenders.

Either Liverpool or Manchester City will become the rst team to score more than 90 goals in a Premier League season and not win the title. ey could yet pass 100 each.

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez is being celebrated for scoring 30 league goals, only the fourth player to achieve the feat in the last 10 years.

If both win their remaining games, City will win the title on goal di'erence. But it won't be goals scored that will be the deciding statistic, but goals against.

City have a better goal di'erence than Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers' side have scored three more. But, crucially, they have conceded 11 more, too.

It means City head into the nal weeks of the season holding an important, if slim, advantage. It is quite a turnaround for a team that was criticised for its defensive frailty at the beginning of the season.

City conceded six in their rst three away games in the league. It prompted criticism that, despite spending Pounds 90m in the summer, they had neglected the area that needed strengthening most.

Manuel Pellegrini did sign Martin Demichelis.

A pony-tailed, ageing, South American centrehalf, he is almost everything English football fans mistrust in their defenders.

But, 10 months on, he is making the crucial di'erence in City's title challenge.

He didn't start well at the Etihad Stadium. His pre-season was disrupted by a move from Malaga to Atletico Madrid.

And after su'ering a knee injury during his rst week of training with City, he wasn't ready to make his debut until the end of October.

But as he's got tter, and more comfortable, the 33-year-old has got better and better.

It has taken time for the Premier League, and the City fans, to warm to Demichelis.

It is the English way to appreciate defenders who win tackles and headers.

But Demichelis' way is more graceful than that.

He has made more interceptions than any other City player but is only sixth on the list of tackles per game.

He's 11th on the list of fouls per game but has a higher pass completion rate than Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and David Silva. …

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