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Dec 10, 2013

A defining week for Manchester City

Sergio Aguero is a versatile weapon for Manchester City's attack.
Sergio Aguero is a versatile weapon for Manchester City's attack.

Every championship team can reflect on its season and pinpoint a particular game or stretch of games that played an integral role in the team’s success. Last season, perhaps on the knowledge that former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola had been hired, Bayern Munich came out of its winter break with 14 consecutive Bundesliga victories, outscoring opponents 19-1. Defending Premier League champions Manchester United can likely point to last season’s mid-November loss to Norwich as a turning point, as the Red Devils rebounded with an 18-game unbeaten streak, complete with nine clean sheets, on their march to the title.

Manchester City is a team with all of the ingredients to make a similar run, and recent convincing wins over Tottenham and Swansea suggest that the Sky Blues will have plenty to play for at the end of the season. But Tuesday’s Champions League game against Bayern Munich, followed by a Premier League clash with league-leaders Arsenal on Saturday, will answer the two questions clouding their title chances -- can the team get results away from home, and is their potent attack built to last through the late stages of a Premier League and Champions League campaign?

Defense (away from home)

In City’s title-winning 2011-2012 season, the team scored 23 goals in their first six away matches (buoyed by six goals in a pseudo-away game at crosstown rival Manchester United and five goals at Tottenham early in the year). But City went on to score just 15 goals in the next 13 away games (eight of them in late-season victories over Norwich and Wolverhampton). This lack of production in away games definitely did not make things easy for City, but thanks to a late-season collapse on the other side of Manchester, City were still crowned league champions.

This season, City has netted just eight points from eight away games, despite outscoring every team except Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea away from their home ground.

The difference doesn’t have to do with...