Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola began life together this past season with an incredible start, winning six consecutive Premier League matches. But a dip in form at the end of 2016 ultimately cost the club down the stretch, finishing third in the table.
A semi-final defeat in the FA Cup and a Round of 16 exit in the UEFA Champions League only added to the frustration. But Manchester City return with massive expectations for the 2017-18 season and have made quite an investment in ensuring that they will be successful.
Manchester City will begin their league campaign at newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. We preview what to expect and what to watch for this season from the Etihad Stadium.
How they will play
One aspect that gives Manchester City and Guardiola a tremendous advantage this year will be their versatility, and how they can adapt to each opponent. While a 4-3-3 formation may be seen often and will likely be preferred, the team can play in a myriad of ways.
Players like Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane can be placed in different spots, while depth from the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho can provide much to the midfield.
Guardiola is a coach that wants to be able to control the match with possession, and his line-up at Manchester City will be able to accomplish that objective.
If there was one task that the City hierarchy had in mind this summer, it was to spend what was needed in order to challenge for the Premier League title. And the club certainly followed through on those plans during this summer’s transfer window.
The numbers have been staggering, with additions throughout the line-up. Kyle Walker and Danilo were brought in to improve the defence, while AS Monaco stars Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy made the move to the City midfield.
Issues at goalkeeper last season were addressed as well in the signing of Ederson from Benifca. Overall, Guardiola has a side at his disposal that should compete for a Premier League trophy.
Other than the new recruits, many of City’s important players will remain the same in their quest for success. It will be crucial for certain members of the squad such as David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne to dictate the tempo of matches and create scoring opportunities.
Striker Sergio Aguero remains an interesting figure, as he struggled for playing time in favour of Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus at times last term. Despite rumours of his departure, the Argentine scored over 30 goals across all competitions in 2016-17 and will still be looking to make an impact as he always has in Manchester.
Guardiola will need to make sure all of the new faces can acclimate quickly, and that cohesion will likely have an influence on the results early in the campaign.
The City Football Group have the highest of expectations for Manchester City, and will want to see nothing short of a Premier League championship in the upcoming season. With all of the resources and reinforcements possible given to him, it will be up to Pep Guardiola to deliver in 2017-18.