Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero could be forgiven for thinking Christmas has come early when Reading roll up at the Etihad this afternoon.
The PL newcomers have conceded the most goals in the division (36) at a rate of more than two per match, and City’s boys from Argentina are looking to fill their boots, if not their Christmas stockings, today.
It’s the season for giving and Brian McDermott’s men keep on giving away winning positions (17 points surrendered from being in front), whereas Roberto Mancini’s troops have plundered 15 points from losing situations, scoring 33 times in the process.
City’s two-year unbeaten home record may have gone, but the previously impenetrable Fortress Etihad is still probably the last place rock bottom Reading want to be in search of festive cheer…but you never know.
Everything points to a convincing City win as the champions pursue their red quarry but, as leaky as Reading’s defence is, their front men know their way to goal.
An impressive eight scored against the Red Reprobates and Arsenal is testimony to their firepower – but they lost on both occasions.
With a defence as secure as Paris Hilton’s G-String, Reading’s rear should succumb to the penetrative advances of City’s potent attack play.
On the topic of thongs or even Bridget Jones’ notorious ‘big knickers’, City need to stop amassing ‘draws’ and get back to winning ways. Half a dozen draws, compared to just one at this stage last season, explains where 12 points have disappeared.
Undeniably difficult to beat – just one reversal in the last 22 PL fixtures – City have sometimes been found wanting for skill and guile when seeking to breakdown stubborn defensive formations, gloriously happy to emerge with a point.
Spurred on by a 3-1 tonking of the ‘Toon’ last week and flashes of last season’s splendiferous play, City could now be on track to start stockpiling the points. David Silva’s recent enforced lay-off and rest period has seen him return rejuvenated, with his wondrous wizardry a key influence.
It’s now three years and three days since Mancini arrived to lead City to one of the most successful periods in their history. His win ratio in the PL of 61% (70 victories in 114 games) stands up with the very best. The Italian is a perfectionist and hungry to deliver evermore silverware to City.
So far this season City have, by and large, lacked the fluency of last, but despite being six points adrift at the top, the manager, the players and the fans are still convinced they will successfully defend their crown.
Injuries have been a big factor this season, with something like four or five first teamers out of contention at any one time. Today is no different with Kompany a big doubt, Nasri, Kolarov, Rodwell, Richards and Balotelli unavailable.
Yaya, Kolo and Abdul Razak will be gone for up to six weeks to the ridiculously scheduled African Cup of Nations (back-to-back tournaments in two years) so resources could be stretched.
Encouragingly Gareth Barry is in contention again following his farcical ban after swearing at the contemptible Clattenburg, and James Milner may have recovered from a pulled hamstring.
The match could mark the 100th PL appearance for fan’s favourite Pablo Zabaleta. One wonders, in the potential absence of Kompany, if Zaba should be given the Captain’s armband for the day? It would be just reward and recognition for a warrior who gives his all each and every time he dons the City shirt.
It bodes well for a barnstorming end to 2012 and an unlucky 2013 for everybody else, if City can build on the mesmerising play seen at St James’s Park.
A substantial run of winning games could feel like it was indeed ‘Christmas everyday…’ so let the partying begin.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Mikey White, City fanatic and loving husband of Stacey who passed earlier this month. He lived to see the Blue Moon rise… RIP MIKEYWHITEWHITEWHITE