Premier League: Manchester City 2015/16 Season Preview
Last season's limp defence of their Premier League crown left fans pondering whether Manuel Pellegrini was the right person to carry Manchester City forward and, with confirmed reports of Pep Guardiola being unsettled at Bayern Munich and the Chilean in the final year his contract at the Etihad, everything is to play for with more title contenders than ever before.
Manchester City will be joined by current champions Chelsea, Arsenal and cross-city rivals Manchester United in the race for the Premier League this season and, with the other teams doing some fantastic transfer business, it will be the toughest fight yet for the English crown.
The marquee signing at the Etihad this summer has undoubtedly been Raheem Sterling, who joined in a club-record deal after a debacle with fellow Premier League side Liverpool. Despite being the tender age of 20, Sterling has added a mixture of speed and creavitity to the team in pre-season, where he scored three times and provided five assists in just four games for his new teammates.
England international Fabian Delph also joined the dethroned Premier League champions after a confusing transfer saga and appears to be a signing to quieten UEFA of the homegrown players rule, aswell as to provide cover for injuries in midfield. At the price of £8m, Delph was a bargain for City. If Yaya Toure's somewhat relaxed defensive methods continue into the coming season, you can expect the 25-year-old to put a good shift in a possibly force his way into the first-team.
Speaking from the fans on social media website, Manchester City supporters will not be content with just these two signings and you can expect more arrivals at the Sportscity campus before the transfer window slams shut.
Key Players: David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany
David Silva always provides that creative spark for City and, although Raheem Sterling will also be able to chip in with the workload, he remains one of the players that Manchester City can always rely on to make a situation dangerous out of nothing. The Spaniard had an average 2014/15 and along with most of the squad, felt the effects of their demise. Despite an overall poor season for the club, Silva contributed seven goals and 12 assists in 32 Premier League appearances.
Keeping Sergio Aguero fit seems to be a daily challenge for Manuel Pellegrini's side and I suspect that there will be no change on that front this season. However, it is crucial for their title hopes that Aguero appears in as many matches as possible, even for a brief stint - he still manages to make an impact. A combined total 34 goals and assists in 33 matches means that he is worth over one goal per match for the Citizens.
The form of Vincent Kompany will also decide who lifts the title next May. In 2013, in my opinion, he was the best central defender in the world. However, his 2014/15 was less than promising. His confidence plummeted and he has not looked too sharp in pre-season either. A couple of mistakes against Stuttgart meant that City fell to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of a mid-table Bundesliga side with an all-but full-strength side.
Where will Manchester City finish?
Despite being a life-long supporter of the club, I do not think that (with the current squads), Manchester City will not be lifting the title for the third time in five years.
I think that they will finish 2nd or 3rd depending on what signings Chelsea make. I see Arsenal as league winners and City, Chelsea and Manchester United battling for the next three spaces. I have to rule United out because they have signed too many players this summer for them all to gel immediately.
2nd or 3rd awaits for Manchester City, unless another midfielder and defender are signed.