Premier League Preview: Can Manchester City do it again?
Manchester City tore the Premier League apart last season. Pep Guardiola masterminded a complete annihilation of the opposition as City left every other team for dead. Even second-placed Manchester United were so far behind they seemed to have finished in fourth place. Naturally, Jose Mourinho was not pleased. The club's hierarchy and fans were likely even more so.
But then, we live in a world of second chances. Not only is the Portuguese manager on a mission to save face and show the world the self-proclaimed special one hasn't lost it, he has accomplices ready to bring down the house that the Catalan is building in Manchester. Liverpool is one of such. London is not left behind as managerial changes have even been effected to help accomplish the mission.
With the Citizens having a relatively quiet transfer window, it appears that may be the case, especially with recent history against them. But you only need to look at the history of Guardiola himself both in Barcelona and Bayern Munich to feel they may not succeed.
After last season's stupendous success, Guardiola extended his contract with Manchester City for another two years, that will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2021. This is quite understandable given his brilliance with the club on the domestic front last season.
The former Barcelona boss is building a fortress in England. Apart from the little matter of Yaya Toure resuscitating an old disagreement, the Catalan has, for the most part, had the complete support of his troops. So much so that when he led them in celebration after a famous win at Old Trafford, it ruffled many feathers
But the animated manager is loved by club hierarchy and fans alike in the blue side of Manchester. After last season's heroics, who wouldn't?
Given Guardiola's usual shopping spree, it has come as a surprise to many that the manager has made only one major signing this summer. That definitely wasn't the plan, however. Targets Fred and Jorginho chose enemy camps, United and Chelsea respectively. That left the club with no other choice than to bring in Riyad Mahrez. Young Dutch defender Philipp Sandler has also been added.
There is still a need to fill the defensive midfield position, though. 33-year-old Brazilian Fernandinho is the only real defensive midfielder in the team. That informed the move for the aforementioned players. The gaffer has admitted that the club will make a move for a player to fill the void after back-up Yaya Toure departed at the end of last season.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart, who lost his place in the team when Guardiola took over, is set for a move to Burnley.
City still boasts of the group that took the Premier League by storm last term and will be looking to go one better this time around. With two top-class goalkeepers, Claudio Bravo and Ederson in between the sticks, the Citizens have no goalkeeping problem. A strong back line consisting of Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and captain Vincent Kompany, flanked by Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy means the team has one of the strongest defences in the division.
Add to that arguably the best midfield partnership of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. With capable deputies Bernardo Silva, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan, who all have Fernandinho behind them, this midfield is difficult to beat.
But it is the firepower up front that does the real damage to the opposition as club-record all-time goalscorer Sergio Aguero is in sublime form. A brace against Chelsea in the Community Shield has set the tone for the new campaign. But he is not alone.
Partners in crime include Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and new addition Riyad Mahrez.
Youngsters Phil Foden, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Brahim Diaz are relishing the opportunity to showcase their talents in this killer squad. 20-year-old Brazilian Dougla Luiz who spent last season on loan at Girona could also feature this time.
Meanwhile, young center back Tosin Adarabioyo is out on loan at West Bromwich Albion. Jack Harrison also went to Leeds United on a loan deal.
Goalkeeper Angus Gunn was signed by Southampton. Jacob Davenport joined Blackburn Rovers. Pablo Maffeo Becerra joined German club Stuttgart. All on a permanent deals.
For anyone who thought Man City's dominance in the last campaign was a one-off, the Sky Blues used the season's curtain raiser against Chelsea to put everyone on notice of what to expect this season.
It is likely that Guardiola is about to repeat his exploits in La Liga with Barcelona and the Bundesliga dominance with Bayern Munich here in England. The opposition is not sitting idly by watching as Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, etc are reinforcing in different positions. Obviously, it's not going to be that easy as he has conceded himself, but I definitely won't bet against it.