Title contenders – Man City’s big spend can end 42-year wait
Manchester City needed a last-minute goal from Paul Dickov to clamber out of the third-tier of English football just 11 years ago, but after spending many millions now stand on the precipice of winning the Premier League (5/1).
City are spoilt for choice here, with two of the league’s best keepers to pick from. 34-year-old Shay Given is described by manager Roberto Mancini as “one of the best five goalkeepers in the world”, while Joe Hart made the PFA team of the year for his displays between the sticks at Birmingham City.
The signing of Jerome Boateng will shore up an area City were weak in last term, having conceded 45 league goals. Able to play anywhere across the back, the 21-year-old has all the coolness you would expect from a German defender.
Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov is sure to follow from Lazio, displacing Wayne Bridge at left-back, and Mancini will hope a £17million price tag doesn’t look as exorbitant as the fees for Jolean Lescott and Kolo Toure after each had disappointing seasons.
Indeed, those two will need to improve if City are to finish in the top four (1/2), especially with Pablo Zabaleta not looking top quality on the right.
Clever signings have been made in this department. Securing defensive midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona was impressive, as was the swoop for Valencia winger David Silva – the pair are real top quality.
A Toure and Nigel De Jong partnership would be near impenetrable, given the former’s slick passing and the latter’s dogged tackling. Gareth Barry could be pushed further forward, while Patrick Vieira would be a reliable replacement.
Despite not featuring much at the World Cup, Silva is a big player for a Spanish side who have conquered all in recent years. An ability to play on either wing will be important and problems for opposition defences should follow if he and Adam Johnson switch flanks during games.
Carlos Tevez had a remarkably productive year last season, scoring 29 goals in 40 games. He is 11/1 to win the Premier League Golden Boot.
Despite City’s attack grabbing a scorching 73 goals in the league, he and Emmanuel Adebayor don’t look quite right as a partnership, and Mancini would do well to get target Mario Balotelli in.
With a squad brimming with potential, Mancini really does have genuine title hopes. But whether he can blend all these elements into a cohesive team is a big question, suggesting they will fall short. See the full Premier League market betting.