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Mid-season report: Manchester City

Mid-season report: Manchester City
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Sports Mole analyses Manchester City's opening half of the Premier League season.

Manchester City entered the new season having secured the Premier League title in the final minute on the final weekend of the previous campaign.

Manchester United's win over Sunderland would have been enough for Sir Alex Ferguson's side to retain their title, but Sergio Aguero's late winner against Queens Park Rangers ended their long wait for a trophy.

They suffered disappointment in the Champions League, however, and with no major signings incoming, they faced a tough task to produce the goods once more.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at how Roberto Mancini's side have fared at the halfway point of the campaign.

August

There were no major incomings for City in the summer, although Javi Garcia, Maicon, Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Matija Nastasic did arrive. Nigel de Jong and Adam Johnson were the notable departures, but it had been suggested that the club had not strengthened their squad sufficiently.

City's season began on August 12 with a Community Shield clash against a new-look Chelsea outfit and they came from behind to secure the first trophy of the new season. Meanwhile, their Premier League campaign got underway with a tight 3-2 win over Southampton, but they needed two late goals to secure the points.

They then dropped points away to Liverpool in their final match of August as they came from behind to secure a point in a 2-2 draw. However, their form was not of the standard from the previous season.

September

September began with a 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers, before they were held 1-1 by Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. They were moments away from securing a famous win over Real Madrid in their first Champions League group stage clash, only to concede twice late on to suffer a 3-2 defeat.

They then embarked on a run of two matches without a victory as they were held at home by Arsenal in the Premier League and dumped out of the League Cup by Aston Villa on their own turf. However, they returned to form with a 2-1 win over Fulham, but once more they left it late as they continued to struggle to find their best form.

October

Their Champions League form continued to stutter as they drew 1-1 with Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of October, but they then picked up two consecutive wins in the Premier League against Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

However, they then suffered defeat to Ajax in Holland with their Champions League hopes in tatters. Meanwhile, City goalkeeper Joe Hart was openly critical of his side following their failings in the European competition. They at least continued their unbeaten run in the Premier League with victory over Swansea City, but all was not well.

November

The striking issue at the club continued into November with Mario Balotelli seemingly given chance after chance while Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez remained on the sidelines. They opened the month with a 0-0 draw against West Ham United, before dropping yet more Champions League points at home to Ajax.

Their solid league form continued, however, with victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, but their hopes of progressing to the latter stages of the Champions League were ended following a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on November 21.

They continued their unbeaten run in the Premier League, however, with a draw away to Chelsea in Rafael Benitez's first game in charge of the Blues, before a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the end of the month.

December

December began with a 1-1 home draw against Everton, but their hopes of securing Europa League football were also ended following a 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in Germany. Next came their biggest match of the season against Manchester United.

United stormed into a 2-0 lead before being pegged back in the second period, but a late free kick from Robin van Persie secured all three points for United in a sensational match to leave City six points off top spot.

They returned to form with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, but they needed a last-minute header from Gareth Barry to take all the points against basement club Reading.

United's dropped points against Swansea City moved them to within four points of top spot, but the problem that is Balotelli continued to drive focus away from their stuttering form.

They then travelled to Sunderland on Boxing Day, having lost by the single goal on each of their last three visits to the Stadium of Light. It was the same old story as Adam Johnson scored against his former club as City dropped seven points behind United, who themselves beat Newcastle United on the same afternoon.

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Manchester United players celebrate with fans after beating rivals Manchester City on December 9, 2012
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