Manchester City had one of the all-time great seasons in Premier League history last year. They had essentially wrapped up the title before January was finished, and became the first club ever to amass 100 points in the league. It will be hard to top that kind of performance in the 2018/19 campaign. However, considering that they won the league by 19 points, Man City could fall off last season’s pace and still repeat as champions.
Manager Pep Guardiola will be tasked with doing something no English club has done in almost a decade, retain the title. Their neighbours in red were the last club to do so when they won three straight titles from 2007-2009. The last three champions have failed to even qualify for the Champions League the following season. Man City will be favoured to top the table again, so a fall from the top four is not likely.
Manchester City Season Preview
Manchester City scored a Premier League record 106 goals during their trophy-winning campaign. They have a wealth of attacking talent and added to their striking options in this transfer window. They recently acquired Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. He will be another electric attacking player to go with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. With all this attacking skill, City could attempt to break their own record for goals in a season. All four of their returning attackers scored at least ten goals a season ago. Aguero led the way at 21, while Sterling added 18.
Adding Mahrez’s one-v-one and finishing abilities to this attack is borderline unfair. Any combination of Mahrez, Sterling and Sane attacking down the wings is a scary proposition. Their pace and skill will open up even more space for the lethal finishing of Aguero and Jesus. Even if injuries or suspensions hit this team, they are stocked enough that attacking talent will never be in short supply. The sheer speed at which they play, both player and ball movement, can overwhelm opponents. The talent is certainly there. The only question is whether they can maintain the edge and consistency that pushed them to the title a season ago.
If having five potent goal scoring options isn’t enough, Man City also have perhaps the best creative midfield duo in Europe. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are each among the best passers in world football. De Bruyne had 16 assists to go along with his eight league goals, while Silva added nine goals and eleven assists in 28 appearances. The combination of their vision and passing, with the skill and finishing of their strikers, is unmatched in the Premier League. Each of them has the ability to control a game from midfield, and both are equally dangerous picking out passes or scoring themselves. Bernardo Silva can play as a creative midfielder or an attacking winger, so he adds even more flexibility to Pep’s decision making. Despite being mainly used as a substitute, he tallied six goals and four assists in his debut season in blue.
Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph bring the muscle to the middle of the pitch. These three provide a counterbalance to the creativity and attacking force the two Silvas and De Bruyne provide. Fernandinho has been a solid contributor for Man City since his arrival in 2013. His tackling and work-rate allow his midfield partners the freedom to create. Gundogan provides much of the same and will hope to remaining injury free this season. The German made only 15 appearances in the Premier League a season ago. Delph brings stability and versatility to this team. He will likely move back to midfield after playing a lot as a makeshift left back in 2017.
The addition of Aymeric Laporte in January, along with the return of Benjamin Mendy, gives them an abundance of talented defenders at their disposal. John Stones looked much more comfortable in his second season for the blue side of Manchester. He is coming off a solid World Cup performance with England. Vincent Kompany is also back but will need better luck with injuries than he’s had the last few seasons. The added defensive depth is insurance in regards to his durability. Kyle Walker, Mendy and Danilo will man the fullback positions. Nicolas Otamendi will also be in the centre-back rotation.
Brazilian keeper Ederson and his back line had 18 clean sheets during their championship run. Man City only conceded 27 goals all season. Ederson suits what Pep wants from his keeper. He is quick off his line to thwart any danger, and also adept at playing the ball with his feet. Man City likes to build up from the back, and get the ball to their talented midfield to let them go to work.
City should be at or around the top of the table this season. They have an explosive group of attackers, creative geniuses in the midfield and a solid back line. Throw in a top-level manager and proven championship pedigree and there is no ceiling for this squad. Their biggest challenge may be avoiding complacency brought on by dominance. Also, they must keep all of their talented players happy and focused. If Pep can manage all this, they have an excellent chance to be the first repeat champions in almost a decade.