Man United are title favourites but could Balotelli save City?

Roberto Mancini and Alex Ferguson - Manchester United v Manchester City

No team has lost the title after amassing 52 points in 21 games, but City aren't giving up just yet

LAST UPDATED AT 11:50 ON Thu 3 Jan 2013

WITH a weekend of FA Cup ties to look forward to there is an opportunity to take stock of the current state of the Premier League title race, and James Ducker in The Times states the obvious when he says Manchester United are favourites to reclaim the crown from their local rivals Manchester City.

Alex Ferguson's team are seven points clear at the top of the table and their impressive points tally is significant, he writes. "This year is only the fifth time in the Premier League era that a team have amassed at least 52 points after 21 matches. On the four previous occasions, those sides have gone on to lift the title."

But there are a couple of things that should offer City hope, says Ducker. First is United's leaky defence and second is the fact that on two of the eight occasions that United have topped the table after 21 games – in 1998 and 2004 - they have failed to win the title. Furthermore, United let City overtake them last season after they had been ahead by eight points with six games remaining.

And Man City skipper Vincent Kompany has insisted that his side have the ability to overhaul United once again. "A couple of years ago, had we fallen seven points behind, we would have all said to ourselves that it would be very difficult [to catch them], but now we have done it, nobody panics," he said.

Although City face the prospect of losing midfield talisman Yaya Toure to the African Cup of Nations for up to six weeks, Roberto Mancini could still bring in new faces in the January transfer window - and he still has a star waiting to shine this season..

Mario Balotelli, who has just three goals this term, could be the man to kick start City's challenge, according to Zlatan Ibrahimovich. The Swedish striker told the Daily Mail: "If any player can retain the title for them it is Mario. All the class that Manchester City have I would still say Mario is the most capable." · 

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If Mario is going to save City he's gone the wrong way about it! Although fighting with your manager is one way to keeps other clubs away during the transfer window. This guy should have his own show: Ballotelli-vision!

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