For all their perceived problems, Manchester City are the only team that remain unbeaten in the Premiership this year, and they have shown plenty of heart in victories like the 10-man turnaround at in form West Brom. They also have an advantage over Manchester United and Chelsea, in that they are in the mix for the title despite not having played anywhere near their best football yet.
The defending champions have looked poor at times this season, but they have found ways to win matches. The main way they have done so is simply by having so many outstanding players, with one of their illustrious attack generally finding a way through at some stage. Their squad has quality in spades in all areas of the pitch, and Mancini probably has five or six players able to turn a game on its head sat his disposal. Whilst Manchester United still looks short of a midfielder, and Chelsea a striker, City have the players they need at the club already.
Their main disadvantage is probably their manager Roberto Mancini, or at least Mancini as he is currently acting. Bad tempered in the public arena, and seemingly unsure of the best way to set his side up, Mancini looks like a man holding his side back. Even the colossus that is Vincent Kompany has looked clueless at times in the constantly changing defences Mancini has sent out. City's great strength is their squad, but it can also lead to problems as the manager struggles to fit all of his talented players into the side.
With a Champions League group stage exit now looking likely, Mancini has a chance to retrain his focus on the league. The manager needs to choose a system and stick with it. He also needs to rein in his rotation, especially in the defence, with City rarely looking settled despite recent clean sheets.
Perhaps the most important factor in City's title challenge is David Silva. The Spanish midfielder was poor at the start of the season, and has been injured in recent weeks. City need him fit and firing on all cylinders as the creative epicentre of their attacks if they are going to win the title again this year, with Samir Nasri not looking up the task of replacing him.
Of the three sides gunning for the title, City look like they have the best squad, and have no real areas they need to reinforce in January. Mancini is under increasing pressure after their poor European form and his admission that he spoke to Monaco about the managerial role there earlier this year. But if he and his squad can refocus themselves on the league, they have more than enough about them to defend the title, the best of Manchester City is likely still to come.
Can Manchester City retain the league?