Manchester City – 2018/19 team & season preview
Manchester City are the reigning Barclays Premier League Champions. They were almost unbeatable in the league and the records tumbled as they broke through the 100 points barrier. Playing with sheer power and dominance, City produced jaw-dropping, scintillating displays of football consistently throughout the season. They also hammered Arsenal to clinch the Carabao Cup to complete a domestic double.
It’s likely to be a case of if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City this season. The team are likely to stick with the same game plan as last season which sees the team make lots of passes, continued pressing and keeping hold of the ball. It’s a tactic that serves them well, dominating the play and wearing the opposition out.
As is the case with champions, their style of play is likely to be emulated by other teams. Chelsea’s new coach Maurizio Sarri plays a similar style, just as many teams changed to a three man defence last season after the tactic was used by Antonio Conte.
Ins and outs
Manchester City finally landed Riyad Mahrez. The 2016 PFA Player of the Year finally achieved his desired move to Manchester City after a failed bid from City in January. Leicester at the time refused to budge on a £95m evaluation fee. Leicester’s stance softened and this time the 27-year old Algerian is now at The Etihad for a fee of about £60m.
Yaya Toure’s departure was inevitable and the club legend called time on his eight-year tenure at the club. His second spell under the management of Pep Guardiola ended up in a fall out in a similar way as his first one while they were both at Barcelona. The 35-year old Ivorian made 315 appearances for the club and scored 82 goals.
Aims for the season
City’s main priority will be defending the League title for another year. They have mostly retained the same squad and will try to keep up the same momentum they finished with last season. However, it is the Champions League that Manchester City’s mega rich owners will crave. It is the one major trophy missing from their collection but has remained elusive since their 2008 takeover of the club and despite spending over £1billion.
Their coach has an impressive C.V with two Champions League trophies to his name but Guardiola has never won the UEFA Champions League with any other team apart from Barcelona. City does have one European trophy, they won the European Winners’ Cup in the 1969-1970 season but they will be desperate to add club football’s greatest prize to their collection.
Strengths and weaknesses
Strength – A confident defence. The most expensive defensive-line is also the most effective in the league both in defending and attacking. Ederson managed 16 clean sheets in his debut season and averaged an impressive 4 long balls per game with a successful pass completion percentage of 85%.
Kyle Walker and Nicholas Otamendi managed a cumulative 14 shutouts. Otamendi scored 4 goals including a memorable winner in the Manchester derby in the 2-1 win in the first leg. The Argentine also managed a successful tackle rate of 74% and had the second best record for completed passes with 3072 in the season.
Weakness – No physicality. The team is composed of fairly short players who are less physical than many teams in the Premier League, which exposes the team more in set-pieces and corners. Perhaps City’s biggest weakness is Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp is fast becoming Pep Guardiola’s nemesis. His team was the first team to register a win against the Champions and they also outclassed them home and away to end their Champions League dreams. City have a hard time with teams that press high up the pitch and those that play an offensive game.
Most important players
Kevin De Bruyne – De Bruyne won the inaugural Premier League’s Playmaker award, topping the assists charts with 16. He scored a remarkable five goals of his seven from outside the box, which is more than six Premier League clubs achieved all season.
Sergio Agüero – Manchester City’s all-time leading goal scorer with 199 goals was also their leading scorer in the league with 21 goals, including 3 hat tricks. First team striker ahead of Brazilian Gabriel Jesus, Agüero is a classic goal scorer who is fast with great footwork and striking precision.
Leroy Sané – The PFA Young Player of the Year had a career-defining season with fifteen assists and ten goals to his name. These stats may be overtaken by the German this season, as at just 22 years old he is still developing. His incredible runs from the left wing make him one of the most exciting players in the league.
Where will they finish?
Manchester City will be playing in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and the League Cup.
They are strong favourites to retain their Premier League crown at 4/6 and second favourites to claim their first Champions League crown, just behind Barcelona at 11/2. They are also favourites to win the FA Cup at 5/1.
We feel the bookies have this correct; any team that finishes above Manchester City in the league will be champions; however it is unlikely that any team will.