Pep Guardiola will be looking to repeat on last year’s success and win the Premier League title for a third straight year. The Manchester City board fully trust him and have given him the funds to strengthen. So far, Rodri has been the most significant addition to an already strong squad but the manager hopes to add at least one more signing.
City have perhaps the strongest squad in the Premier League. Fernandinho’s age and injuries will have a considerable impact on the number of games he’ll play this year but Rodri should ease into that role with minimum fuss. Perhaps the biggest problem they will have will be at the back. Club legend Vincent Kompany departed at the end of last season. Though he was reduced to a bit part role last year, his influence was the reason why City had such a strong title run in. It will be interesting to see who steps up to fill his void in defense.
Manchester City Formation
City will start their title defense without Sergio Aguero. The Argentine’s season ended in July due to the Copa America. It’s the same story for fellow striker Gabriel Jesus who won the tournament with his native Brazil. So far in pre-season, Pep has improvised and now fields Raheem Sterling down the middle in his conventional 4-3-3 formation as a false 9. Sterling has responded well and has thrived in his new role. He drifts in and out of the between the defensive block and the midfield block. His movements allow the two most advanced central midfielders in the system to push up into the pockets of space in between the lines and wreak havoc. Sterling also goes wide and allows his wingers to come infield.
This new approach will no doubt be very effective since most defenders prefer a striker the can pin against in a physical battle. A false 9, as Sterling is in this case will give them lots to think about.
Last season Bernardo Silva burst into life and made sure the absence of De Bruyne was not felt. The Belgian playmaker has a point to prove after an injury ravaged season. David Silva will also want to leave on a good note so expect a great season from ‘Merlin’. Phil Foden will have more opportunities this year to stake his claim as a first team player in a very competitive squad.
If John Stones rises to the occasion, the absence of Kompany will not be felt keenly but if there is a weak point other teams can exploit, it would be City’s defenders. City are clear favourites to win the title but they are over reliant on a few key players like Sterling and Fernandinho to stay fit for the majority of the season.