Game recap: City 1-1 Fulham

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Mario Balotelli of Manchester City competes with Chris Baird (L) and Aaron Hughes of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at the City of Manchester Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise that points were dropped to Fulham in the manner of yesterday, after all it was the fourth consecutive season that season that they have retrieved points from losing positions.

Even so - and despite Fulham's role as draw specialists this season - it was still a surprise to let points slip having taken the lead and in fact it was the first home points dropped after scoring first this season (following seven previous victories). Taking the whole season (both home and away) into account it was only the ninth point dropped too; an illustration of how secure leads usually are and further evidence that the side is beginning to suffer from wear and tear.

The side missed David Silva dearly yesterday. If Carlos Tevez is the catalyst of the side, the heartbeat that galvanises a performance then Silva is the orchestrator, his influence to control the game and bridge the midfield and attack increasingly evident as the season has progressed.

The past month or so he has been the most influential player of late and with the trio of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Pablo Zabaleta the midfield lacked the ability to combine with the attack as fluently as hoped. The result of which was a far from polished performance and led to some uncontrolled play at times. It does of course raise concerns for the Villa game this coming Wednesday; the hope is of course Silva and Kompany will return.

The players looked tired, and although the squad is deep to a degree, injuries are preventing Mancini rotating as I imagine he would like to have done. Perhaps the season is beginning to take its toll on those players who have played the vast majority of the forty or so games this season. Could this cost over the course of the season with Cup games coming thick and fast? 

Looking ahead to next week, dropping points yesterday means that Mancini will need to take full points from the game against Wigan - a game sandwiched between two important games, reducing the prospect of resting key parts.

With ten games now left, the fixtures against Chelsea (away) and Tottenham (home) are looking increasingly important in having a bearing on Champions League qualification. It is pretty safe to say United and Arsenal will occupy the top two with one of the remaining trio missing out.

Those games therefore will be key, the need to ensure the side is in a position of strength, rather than chasing lost ground is key. It appears the stakes have been raised.

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