Bhat: City the winners from January action

Manchester City may have not signed a single player in the January transfer window but given the actions of their rivals, they did not really need to.

Manchester City's Belgian defender Vincent Kompany
Suhas Bhat

By Suhas Bhat

Sergio Aguero was ruled out with injury in December. But it didn't matter.

Defensive rock Vincent Kompany has also had a poor, injury-riddled season but even that hasn't mattered.

Even Joe Hart's inconsistency did not faze manager Manuel Pellegrini as he felt confident enough to leave the England number one on the bench in nine games in the first half of the season.

The Chilean seems to have inherited one of the most complete squads in any manager's first full season in charge (surprising, given that he was appointed when Real Madrid signed the 'galactic' duo of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo). 

And ahead of what could be a potentially decisive clash between City and Chelsea, the Sky Blues did well to keep their heads down and see where the cards fell.

They have fallen nicely and confirmed Pellegrini's belief that he has the best hand of the lot. 

The BPL January purchases assessed

Arsene Wenger is not a big fan of the January transfer window, everyone knows that. Neither am I.

Transfer fees are inflated beyond measure as agents and clubs know that time is on their side. Naturally, they exploit a team's positional woes like vultures in a desert. 

The Frenchman was expected to sign a striker to reduce Olivier Giroud's workload but a loan for a midfielder became necessary after Aaron Ramsey was injured in training. But the fact that even Kallstrom was not fully fit before his arrival makes it quite the morale-sagging deal.

It clearly shows a lack of ambition on the part of the Gunners and they may yet regret their late foray into the transfer market. Their slim two-point advantage over City, who have a game in hand, appears to be there for the taking. 

That leaves Chelsea as the other club that Pellegrini would have had to watch out for.

The Blues have no qualms dispensing large sums of cash on midfielders and they bought two in Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic in order to replace Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne. 

However, the Blues were also in need of a striker as Demba Ba, Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres have only registered 11 goals in the league between them this season. The Spaniard, who scored the decisive second goal in the 2-1 win over City at Stamford Bridge in October, is still out with a knee injury.

The departure of Michael Essien is also a worrying sign as John Obi Mikel and Ramires have yet to fill the Claude Makelele void - the Frenchman was arguably a key component in Mourinho's first title triumph with his excellent reading of the game.

The two defensive-minded midfielders left in the side do not have the same calm assurance of an anchorman and the jury is still out over whether Matic can settle into the role much like he did at former club Benfica after the departure of Javi Garcia.

Elsewhere, Brendan Rodgers seems to think that attack is the best form of defence but he failed to add another midfielder to his ranks and a web of mystery surrounds the reasons behind the unsuccessful Yevhen Konoplyanka deal.

It was definitely a January to forget for the Northern Irishman.

But right now, he needs to shift his focus to repairing the defence as the injuries of Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho are taking their toll; Kolo Toure floundered as a left-back on Sunday night when he gifted Victor Anichebe an easy chance and the draw gives gives fourth-chasing Tottenham and Everton a glimmer of hope.

Don't fix it if it ain't broke

That seems to have been the mantra for City and it has paid off handsomely this year. 

Aguero's absence due to injury (for a second time) is unfortunate but Alvaro Negredo is more than up for the task. Furthermore, keeping hold of Edin Dzeko, in my view, could be a masterstroke as it will have boosted the Bosnian's morale after a month of continual transfer speculation.  

And when you have Yaya Toure scoring 12 goals in the season and the likes of Dzeko and Stevan Jovetić waiting on the bench, you know that City are likely to last the distance.

Even in a bizarre season (I still can't believe Manchester United have lost eight games already!), it is safe to say that City have found their rhythm and will probably only have upcoming encounters against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United to worry about.

Those three fixtures take place away from the Etihad but City do have six games in the intervening period with four taking place at their impregnable fortress. It wouldn't surprise me if they manage to build up a sizeable lead by then. 

And for a club regularly chided for flexing their financial muscle too often, the acquisitions of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Negredo, Jovetic and Martin Demichelis have proven to be inspired moves as each player has stood up and made a contribution this season.

Who would have thought that City would be the club to get full marks for their spending activities in a Barclays Premier League season? 

Jose Mourinho would likely disagree with such an assessment but the Portuguese will really have to produce something special to end City’s impressive 19-game unbeaten run when they travel to the Etihad.

The Citizens have yet to drop a point there all season.

That's 11 straight Premier League victories. 



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