Manchester City headed into the new Premier League season as one of the favourites for the Premier League title but the Citizens already find themselves playing catch-up to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, who have started the new campaign in blistering form.
Pep Guardiola’s side stand unbeaten from the opening three games of the season, winning two and drawing one, but they have been extremely fortunate in their last two matches against Everton and Bournemouth; scoring late goals to secure a point and a victory respectively.
In those results against Everton and Bournemouth, Manchester City looked to be lacking the cutting edge that it requires to be champions and improvements will certainly have to be made after the international break, where the Citizens face Liverpool, Feyenoord, Watford, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea across three competitions in September.
City have a significant squad depth, but lack stand-out improvement?
Battling across all fronts, this is where Manchester City’s significant squad depth will come into play and there’s an expectation upon the latest batch of signings to show exactly why Pep Guardiola parted with the prices he did this summer.
Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson will have his chance to prove his worth next month and the same can be said for fellow defensive recruits Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy – all of whom have thus far only showed bright sparks rather than stand-out ability that’s capable of taking Manchester City towards a Premier League title.
Bernardo Silva, the £45 million acquisition from Monaco, will also need to stand-up and prove that he’s capable of being a leading star in the Premier League, particularly as Guardiola’s side boast a wealth of strength in wide areas with the likes of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling already on their books.
Something is missing?
For all the money that Manchester City have spent, there isn’t a stand-out improvement in the side like there has been with Manchester United. At Old Trafford, Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running with three goals in three Premier League matches and Nemanja Matic has provided a huge boost to the midfield ranks. That’s not to say City need the signings United have, it’s just clearer to see how Mourinho’s new recruits have improved the sides.
Even if Manchester City were to land Alexis Sanchez ahead of the transfer window deadline, it still seems that Guardiola’s side is missing something – which is quite remarkable considering the wealth of talent the Citizens have on their books. The difficulty is putting your finger on what exactly that is and having a vast array of attacking midfielders isn’t the solution, so keeping everybody happy this season will be a stern ask.
There’s still plenty of football to be played though but September will be the biggest test of all for Manchester City, as they’ll come up against direct rivals in Liverpool and Chelsea; whilst they must also show their squad is capable of fighting across all fronts.
A favourable Champions League group works in Manchester City’s favour but it does mean that there’s no room for failure, especially as they’re due to be compared with their arch-rivals on a regular basis.