Manchester City’s title chances in 2013-14

The Etihad Stadium outfit have signed a number of international stars this summer, and will look to go one better than their second-placed finish last term.

Roberto Mancini has been replaced by Manuel Pellegrini in the City hotseat, and the expectations of the former Malaga boss will be sky high. With a multi-million pound squad being bolstered with extreme summer investment, nothing other than top spot will be good enough for the South American coach.

City’s summer transfer business has been mightily impressive with Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo added to the club’s squad. It is unlikely that City will sign anyone else – they have the players now to challenge for top honours at home and in Europe.

Joe Hart could potentially be the only English player in the City starting XI when everyone is fit, as the competition for places at the club is intense. Ahead of the Three Lions number one, Vincent Kompany will rally his troops and look to retain City’s place as the most miserly defence from last season.

Matija Nastasic had an impressive first season in England and will most likely partner his captain in the heart of the City backline for the bulk of next term. The eastern European is currently injured however, so Joleon Lescott will deputise. Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta will compete for a spot at right-back, with Gael Clichy and Aleksander Kolarov the options at left-back. A back four of Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic and Clichy is as good as any in Europe.

In midfield City look overloaded with a lot of players competing to play in the centre of the park. A partnership between Yaya Toure and Fernandinho looks the most likely, and will be a nightmare for opposition sides this season. Both have the engine to get up and down the park, a solid range of passing and provide a goal threat.

David Silva played a key role in City’s Premier League title success in 2011-12, and the side were not as dangerous an attacking threat last season when the Spaniard was out of form or injured. Pellegrini will look to wrap his playmaker up in cotton wool and keep him fit, as on form he makes the side’s attack click.

In attack it is a case of two out-and-out number nines, and two second strikers that will drop deep and look for the ball to feet. Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo will battle it out for a place as the furthest man forward, while Sergio Aguero and Jovetic will add to the considerable amount of creativity that City’s midfield offers. All four are top quality.

City’s title chances will depend on just how their new players and coach settle into life in Manchester, and how quickly they can get into their stride. If they can come out of the blocks strongly, City will be a force to be reckoned with this term.

images: © Mark Freeman, © geetarchurchy

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