How will Man City look in their first match of the season?
A new boss and a plethora of new players means that a new-look City is almost certainly on the way.
Under Roberto Mancini, Manchester City were often accused of being a ‘defence first’ side but Manuel Pellegrini will install a new philosophy of possession based football building attacks methodically from deep. Here’s what Manchester City could look like against Newcastle in their Premier League opener.
The England number one was imperious in City’s title winning season, keeping 17 clean sheets that year. A match-winning keeper.
Arguably the best right back in Europe, the fiery Argentinian has been one of City’s most consistent performers over the last few years. The only Blues player to be named in last year’s PFA Team of the Year, he also picked up the Fans Player of the Year in an all together disappointing season for the Citizens.
As club captain, Kompany’s name will be one of the first on the team sheet. The monstrous centre-half won the 2012 Premier League Player of the Season but struggled last term with a recurring knee injury. Not only is he impeccable defensively, he is also comfortable on the ball and has excellent distribution. Pellegrini will be delighted to have him in his team.
The 20-year-old usurped Joleon Lescott as the club’s number two centre-half last year with his dynamic displays at the heart of defence. Using his pace to clear up the little Kompany failed to win in the air, the Serbian international bears a composure beyond his years and has excellent passing. While Pelligrini has assured Lescott of his place in the side, Nastasic is a better footballer and more in tune with the Chilean’s emphasis on ball retention.
Perhaps the weak link in an otherwise formidable back four. Clichy is vastly experienced having spent eight years at Arsenal before picking up a Premier League winner’s medal at City. However, he is error prone and his best attribute is arguably his pace. A lack of competition at left back means he gets the nod on this occasion, but his low quality crossing and ‘headless chicken’ demeanour could eventually grind on Pellegrini who enjoys methodical, well-planned attacks.
The all conquering power-house midfielder was often employed further forward by Roberto Mancini, utilising his ability to beat a man and get off powerful shots at goal. However, Pellegrini’s sides are noted for their ability to react to pressure and defend in two banks of four. Under the Chilean, Yaya is more likely to be deployed in a deeper role, as he was by Barca, in order to capitalise on his defensive capabilities but will still have the freedom to get forward.
One of City’s marquee summer signings, the Citizens parted with £30m to secure the services of the Shakhtar man. Interestingly, Fernandinho is very similar to Yaya in the sense that he is equally adept at getting forward and creating as well as marshalling the back four. Arguably, he is better at dictating a game from deep than the Ivorian, but in order to fully utilised, the Brazilian cannot be shackled defensively and be allowed to become a water-carrier. It will be important to develop an understanding with his midfield partner so that they know when and what their duties are.
Pellegrini is known for his love of the traditional playmaker, but the strength and depth City have in this area, coupled with Silva’s positional versatility, means he finds himself on the wing. Under Roberto Mancini, Silva was mostly used as a trequartista in the absence of Carlos Tevez but is equally adept at creating from out wide. James Milner’s work rate and discipline will appeal to a boss whose preffered formation of 4-2-3-1 often morphed into a more traditional 4-4-2 at Malaga, but Silva’s creative abilities give him the edge.
One of Europe’s most pursued forwards this summer, Jovetic signed from Fiorentina for £22m. The 23-year-old Montenegrin scored 13 goals in Italy last term. He is capable of playing both in behind a striker or leading the line and will fit nicely in Pellegrini’s system. He has been compared to Roberto Baggio and Gianfranco Zola in Italy and his excellent dribbling capabilities will see him thrive in Manchester.
More of a traditional winger than David Silva, Navas has electrifying pace and terrific dribbling skills that should see him terrorise many a Premier League full-back. The ex-Sevilla man is still a regular in the Spain squad despite plying his trade in a golden generation. Without being a prolific scorer he is noted for his end product, topping La Liga’s charts for decisive passes in the 2009-10 season.
The talismanic striker can produce a goal out of anything. His Messi-esque balance and ability to change direction often leaves the best of centre-halves lumbering and possesses an exceptional powerful finish. Despite the signing of Alvaro Negredo, as one of the best strikers in the world it is difficult not to opt for the Argentinian.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.