Date Founded: 1880
Ground: Etihad Stadium (47k)
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Rivals: Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea
Last season’s finish: 1st
First five games:
Newcastle (A), Liverpool (H), Stoke (H), Arsenal (A), Chelsea (H)
Pablo Zabaleta – The Argentine is one of the best right-back’s in the world. His strong tackling, top work-rate and high determination are all qualities required of a full-back that are required to be both an offensive threat as well as getting back for defensive duties. Zabaleta is a key player for his national team and I don’t see his position at City being under threat with the arrival of Sagna.
Vincent Kompany – Kompany is the current captain of the team and his presence provides a very visible leadership and stability which was lacking in games he missed last season. He seems the perfect centre-back with height, strength and pace that often keeps strikers out of the game.
Yaya Toure – Despite a recent incident regarding his happiness at the club, Toure still remains in the team with the issue now apparently resolved. Yaya put away a quite remarkable 20 goals in the league last season, and now shares a record held by Frank Lampard as the only two midfielders to score 20 goals in a single season. He was voted as last season’s player of the year by the City fans, and I think that although they will be pleased that he now appears to be staying, they may not be buying as many Toure shirts this season.
Willy Caballero – 32 year old goalkeeper, signed for £4.4 million from Malaga
Eliaquim Mangala – 23 year old defender, signed for £32 million from FC Porto
Bacary Sagna – 31 year old defender, signed for free from Arsenal
Fernando – 27 year old midfielder, signed for £12 million from FC Porto
Frank Lampard – 36 year old midfielder, signed on loan until January from New York City
Areas to improve:
To think of areas to improve for a title-winning side is extremely difficult. There are plenty of key players and depth in almost every position for the Manchester club. Possibly a minor area to look at is in defence. Demichelis had a mostly unconvincing debut season for the club and looked out-of-place at times next to the impressive Kompany. While Nastasic, Boyata and Richards are options for Pellegrini, they aren’t perhaps the quality required compared to the rest of the team – although they may be in the future. The recent big signing of Mangala should provide the sufficient quality if nobody leaves, to strengthen this position enough for me. Another area to look at would be the left-back position for me. Clichy and Kolarov are both very gifted at going forward and crossing, but in tighter games a better defensive option would be more desirable for the manager in my opinion.
After winning a tight premier league last year, it would be extremely impressive if City do manage to fend off competitors for the second season running. I expect with the strengthening taking place this window there will be even less “guaranteed” points this season, and City will have to be sharp and professional in every game if they want to be crowned champions again. On paper it seems like it’ll be a race between City and Chelsea, but I think we can agree it won’t be as simple as that. I don’t think that the fans will be too disappointed if they fail to win the league this season, with a Top 3 finish acceptable. However with the remarkable attacking quality available, including Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo and Jovetic, I’d like to see the Manchester club perform better in the Champions League this year, as well as in the FA cup after being knocked out in the 6th round last season.