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Manchester City set for late title charge?

Manchester City set for late title charge?
Today's roundup of Manchester City news from across the media includes a positive take on the Blues' chances of silverware and news of a fight to land a Nigerian wonderkid.

We start today with with an in-depth column from  ESPN’s Simon Curtis, who believes City look set to make a strong end-of-season challenge for honours.

With City having lost just once in their last seven matches, Curtis believes they warming up nicely after a difficult run of form. 

Chelsea, he says, will be tested more heavily between now and the end of the season - and City are in a good position to pounce if that happens. 

He writes: “City are clearly gearing up for an attack on the game's prizes come the end of the season.

“There are no rewards, after all, for being in top form during the autumn, a point seemingly lost on Wenger every year. It is very much about hitting the right sort of form as the winter turns to spring and those who have pretended begin to fall away. This is when Chelsea, serene and comfortable at the top for so long, will discover the extent of their renaissance under Antonio Conte. The canny manager must be surprised at how far he has taken a squad that by common consent was as much in need of overhaul as City's ageing group last summer.”

Curtis goes on to suggest the impact of Gabriel Jesus’ arrival could prove to be the catalyst for improved City form.

“Mindful of the run-in to 2011-12, when arch title-winners Manchester United stood eight points clear with just six games to go, City will be happy to chase from behind and wait for Chelsea to slip up. The London side have hardly broken step since a heavy defeat at the Emirates in September. Conte's shift in formation after that game, which saw Chelsea move to three at the back and a more combative midfield set-up centred around the terrier-like N'Golo Kante, has served them immaculately in the months that have ensued.

“City have also experimented with three at the back with varying degrees of success, but it is in the sparkling forward line that Guardiola will put his faith. In Gabriel Jesus, the coach has the catalyst for a determined run towards the finishing tape. The Brazil international's blistering start in a City shirt, with three terrific touches in the dying seconds of his substitute appearance against Tottenham followed by three goals against West Ham and Swansea, has lit the blue touch paper. If City can make good progress in the coming months, who knows what effect this will have on the Premier League's long-time leaders.”

Meanwhile, Pablo Zabaleta has told reporters he feels Jesus’ arrival is good for the Club.

He says far from being in competition with Sergio Aguero for a starting place, the young Brazilian in fact brings the kind of depth to the striking department that every top club craves.

"Especially with the big squads, where you have more than one big player in each position. And of course, Sergio has been playing for most of the years as first choice. Now we have Gabriel Jesus," Zabaleta said.

"I think it's good to have two players with that quality. It's always good to have healthy competition in the team - you know you have to perform well to keep your place in the team and that's normal for the big squads."

And, finally, City look set to lose out on the signature of American-born Nigerian youngster Lateef Omidiji Jr.

The 13-year-old is thought to be the subject of interest from a host of top clubs - including the likes of City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Ajax – but Arsenal are now in pole position to land him.

Omidiji is currently training with Sparta Rotterdam, whose academy has helped produce the likes of Danny Blind, Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jetro Willems, but is set to begin training with Arsenal in the summer, meaning they will be in a strong position to sign him as soon as he is old enough to pen a professional deal.

That’s all for today, Blues – we’ll see you tomorrow for more news and opinion from across the media.  

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