Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side have set the bar extremely high since its creation under the Spanish mastermind in the 2016/17 season.
The Premier League champions, who have started the new season in a similarly strong manner to the way they dominated the division the whole of the last campaign, are certainly the team to beat, with Liverpool and Chelsea matching their efforts this season also and impressively demonstrating the improvements they have made in the summer.
Much like Liverpool and Chelsea, the rest of the league were given a strong wake up call on a weekly basis by a rampant City side last season and, certainly in the case of Chelsea and Liverpool, have stepped up accordingly and increased their chances with some solid recruitment, a change in style and – in Chelsea’s instance – an impressive new manager overseeing things in a division now containing a shedload of managerial giants.
But have Manchester City strengthened enough, thus enabling them to maintain the gap they so comfortably built up last season? In short, apart from the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, no.
Sergio Aguero, a vital ingredient to the Citizens success and a club legend in his own right, isn’t getting any younger at the age of 30. Their reliance on him is a concern, especially if injuries potentially catch up with the Argentine as the season progresses and the intensity of England’s top flight increases. Of course Gabriel Jesus is waiting in the wings, but the young Brazilian has barely hit the ground running overall in the Premier League and after a tricky time with Brazil at the World Cup in Russia, the hype and excitement surrounding him appears to have turned into doubts and big question marks over his long-term future at the club.
Should Aguero get injured, which tends to happen over the course of a season, a misfiring, potentially low on confidence Jesus is Manchester City’s only real option when it comes to leading the line and banging in the required goals needed to win any title.
Guardiola and City’s lacklustre summer of recruitment, where they were linked with a few strikers in Europe but couldn’t get one over the line – alongside the failed acquisition of Jorginho, who opted for Sarri’s Chelsea – could really come back to bite them come the end of the season.
With the UK’s online bookmakers and experts alike finding the division incredibly tough to predict this season, Manchester City’s lack of striker options could provide some clarity as the season gets down to its pivotal stages and the real nitty gritty commences. There’s certainly some excellent value to be had in backing the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool for title success ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side. Stranger things have happened, that’s for sure.