As Sergio Aguero limped tearily from the Etihad turf against Everton few Manchester City fans would have believed his departure might have positive effects.
Yet, coincidence or not, the Sky Blues have enjoyed their most defensively sound period of a previously porous campaign while ‘Kun’ has been injured.
Prior to the seven minutes he managed against the Toffees, City had kept just three clean sheets in the 16 games Aguero had started across all competitions in 2013/14.
Victory over Roberto Martinez’s men included they’ve now won their last three games to nil in the prolific hitman’s absence.
It’s the first time the Citizens have achieved such a feat since January and points to a recapturing of the kind of defensive due diligence they were so proud of under the much-maligned Robert Mancini.
Crystal Palace are next on the menu and Manuel Pellegrini’s men are 21/20 to win to nil against an Eagles side shut out in three of their last five on the highways and byways of the Premier League.
City’s rediscovered defensive strength is all the more impressive given fearless leader Vincent Kompany has been absent for all but 77 minutes of the last three games.
However, the question remains, why might City be more effective at protecting Joe Hart without their extravagantly gifted crown jewel?
An adjustment of mentality is sure to play a part, with the rest of the squad knowing they cannot afford to let their performances drop by so much as a centimetre in the absence of their one-man get-out-of-jail-free card.
But perhaps of greater tactical importance Pellegrini’s tendency to employ two deeper central midfielders in virtually every league game Aguero has failed to start this term.
With the lethal 26-year-old out until the new year, the time to get on another City shutout is now.
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