Manchester City’s hopes of winning the 2019-20 Premier League was as good as over before the turn of the year with Liverpool’s dominance over the division, winning 26 of their first 27 games.
Pep Guardiola’s side were hit with injuries at the back and were made to pay for not replacing Vincent Kompany last summer, but a positive end to the disrupted campaign, at least in the league, will give fans optimism for the upcoming campaign.
City are actually odds on favourites to win the title this season. This is despite the losses of David Silva and Leroy Sane, with only Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake arriving so far during the summer transfer window.
Over the past 18 seasons, the eventual Premier League champions have picked up 24 points on average from their first 10 games.
If Manchester City are to make a fast start to the new season then they have to go through a few top teams in the opening weeks. The Citizens won’t be involved in the opening weekend fixtures themselves after being given an extra week off due to their participation in the Champions League last month.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will host Pep’s side on Monday 21 September. The West Midlands club did the double over City last season and will have a competitive game under their belt before the two meet at Molineux.
Following that, Manchester City’s second game will be at home to Leicester City, before travelling to Leeds United and then hosting Arsenal, who only beat them in the FA Cup semi-finals back in July. The Gunners have started the new season with a penalty shootout win in the FA Community Shield last weekend, meaning Mikel Arteta’s side could be a real threat to taking points from the bookmakers’ title favourites.
Any early dropped points will only add pressure to Pep and his side, given the expectations around the club, and not just because of their pre-season odds. On paper, they certainly look like they need another new centre-back given Aymeric Laporte’s lack of fitness last season and with Ake only ever playing for bottom half clubs.
Phil Foden may be given the opportunity to replace David Silva as a regular in the middle of the park, having shown plenty of promise in the games he has played under the Spaniard. The 20-year-old is the obvious choice, unless the manager wants to move Bernardo Silva into a central role, particularly with Ferran Torres being a winger to play on the right-hand side of the front three where Silva has predominantly played.
A left-back should also be on the cards for the management team before the window shuts on 5 October. City missed out on Ben Chilwell to Chelsea last month and have not had any consistency from players in this role over the past two seasons.
Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium in what will be Jurgen Klopp’s eighth Premier League game of the season and after that game we should have a clearer picture as to where the title will end up at the end of the season.
The Reds themselves have been very quiet so far this summer, with defender Kostas Tsimikas the only new signing so far. However, with their dominance last campaign, which includes arguably the best defence and best attack in the league, how much do they really need to improve?
The emphasis has to be on Manchester City to improve if they are to claw the title back from Liverpool, making those opening handful of games against top half finishing sides from last season, even more crucial.