30/12/2013 08:35 GMT

Manchester City And Manuel Pellegrini's Half-Term Report

Clint Hughes via Getty Images
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini issues orders to David Silva of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on December 28, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

Manuel Pellegrini's press conferences might be soporific, but his Manchester City side's football is anything but. They sit second in the Premier League table, yet they have served up the most entertaining football this season and rightly remain favourites to regain the title.

The Chilean has overseen progression to the last 16 of the Champions League, which twice proved to be an insurmountable hurdle for Roberto Mancini, and City have also reached the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, with the possibility of an all-Manchester final in early March.

They have scored an extraordinary 54 goals in the League - one more than the amount they registered at this stage when they won the title two seasons ago. City hit six past Tottenham and Arsenal, and showed mercy on neighbours United with a 4-1 home success. The prolific Sergio Agüero scored five against those opponents.

For the first time in aeons, they have set an example for their neighbours to follow, rather than vice versa. United excused their calamitous transfer window by saying David Moyes started his new role on 1 July, yet that was the same date Pellegrini officially took over at City. Jesús Navas and Fernandinho signed for the club in June and deals for Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetić, announced on 19 July, had long since been lined up. Whereas United strengthened their commercial line-up, City strengthened their starting line-up.

It is testament to City's squad they have coped commendably without Agüero so far. The Citizens have scored seven in three League games since he was injured in the 6-3 defeat of Arsenal, although the laboured triumphs over Liverpool and Crystal Palace suggest it could still be a slog in his absence.

Agüero has been prolific for City this season

Although it is ten-out-of-ten at home, City have lost four games on the road and are yet to win consecutive away games. Each defeat has featured goalkeeping errors from Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon, and, however well City spent in the summer, they remain uncertain in defence. On Monday, Pellegrini said: "We are always analysing what we need and what we don't need," and it is expected a goalkeeper will be signed in 2014.

Ominously for their rivals, Matija Nastasić's return after a month out on the sidelines should alleviate City fans' concerns and Hart has performed well on his return to League duty after two months on the bench. With Yaya Touré effectively an attacking midfielder, Fernandinho has accepted the responsibility of shielding his back four expertly, although as Liverpool highlighted on Boxing Day, they are prone to being overrun in midfield, which leaves their impressive centre-backs vulnerable.

Even though he is yet to lift silverware in Europe, Pellegrini was primarily appointed to improve City's record in the Champions League and he has delivered with aplomb. Aside from Bayern Munich's comprehensive win at the Etihad Stadium, City won all their games and might have won their group had Pellegrini got his sums right. The opponents were not as tricky as the last two seasons, however.


Humiliating United to the extent they went easy on them after Samir Nasri made it 4-0.


The manner of losing two points at Chelsea, which finally convinced Pellegrini to drop Hart after his umpteenth mistake.


The 6-0 evisceration of Tottenham, the most ruthless and clinical display of Pellegrini's short era.


The surrender at Sunderland. A surprisingly uninspiring performance.


Sergio Agüero.