Both of Manchester City’s Premier League triumphs to date have been won by the finest of margins, but the new season could see them earn their most convincing title yet.
As Louis van Gaal plots the revival of their noisy neighbours Manchester United, and Jose Mourinho adds to his Chelsea squad, here are five reasons why it won’t be enough to stop the Citizens this campaign.
1. New signings
Manuel Pellegrini has added more depth to a few areas on the pitch that will only see them improve. Bacary Sagna has come in on a free to give Pablo Zabaleta some competition, while Fernando and Frank Lampard offer experience, particularly in Europe, that can help City compete for several trophies.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero should also provide higher quality back-up to Joe Hart, while the incoming Eliaquim Mangala should fill City’s centre-back void.
2. Stevan Jovetic
The Montenegro forward had an injury-plagued first season in the Premier League and therefore failed to make the impact expected of him. He did show flashes of class when he was able to play and has had a strong pre-season with four goals in two games. Jovetic will be like a new signing for City and could play a major part in their success.
3. 2012/13 season
With the exception of Manchester United last season, few teams have whimpered in their attempts at defending the title like City did in the 2012/13 campaign. They finished 11 points behind the Red Devils and would have ended up even further behind had their rivals not eased up when they were confirmed champions. Manager Pellegrini will be keen to ensure that they build on last season’s success.
4. Christmas period
City have a good fixture list this season, with the majority of their toughest games coming at the start of the campaign. Hence over the Christmas period - the most congested time of year - they have a winnable run of games.
The two-week busy period sees them face Leicester City, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sunderland - matches they will expect to gain maximum points from.
5. Relatively unchanged
Unlike many of their rivals, City have had a smooth summer. While Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have made a few major alterations to their squad, and Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have had a change of management, the champions have slipped under the radar. They have made a couple of signings who can help them, but otherwise have been quiet in the transfer market.