Premier League Predictions: 2nd place Manchester City

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In this Thursday, June 25, 2020 file photo, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne scores a goal from a free kick during their English Premier League soccer match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, in London, England. Likely to be up there as the biggest challengers to Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s side can blow any team off the park when they are on form but the Spaniard needs to make sure there are not as many off days for his side in the coming months. Photo courtesy of Paul Childs / Pool Photo via AP.

This next pick was tough to decide. I really had to dive deep into different squads, coaches, play styles and transfer business. After looking at recent success and how the clubs have strengthened, as well as how they have become weaker, I think Manchester City will challenge all season for the title of Premier League Champions, but in the end, they will end up where they finished last season, second place. 

Manchester City’s dominance in the Premier League over the last decade has been incredible. Four Premier League titles since 2010, including a 100-point season in 2017-2018. However, in Europe, they haven’t had the same success in the Champions League. Pep Guardiola, who arguably is the best manager in football, came to City in 2016 to push for a Champions League title. So far that title has eluded him and his team since his arrival. It looks as though winning the Champions League will be the main focus of City on top of winning the Premier League.  

City has some of the best players in the world. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was recently named PFA Player of the Year and is considered the best midfielder in the Premier League. Their attack will once again include Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, but they lost talented young winger Leroy Sane to German club Bayern Munich during the summer transfer window. Anyone who knows Manchester City knows they’re not afraid to spend big to get the players they want in order to create more success. City already brought in Spanish winger Ferran Torres from La Liga side Valencia for 23 million euros to replace Sane. City will look to bring in more players especially on the defensive side of the ball.  

FILE – In this Tuesday, July 21, 2020 file photo, Manchester City’s Phil Foden kicks the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Manchester City at the Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, England. England players Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have been dropped for Tuesday’s game against Denmark after breaching coronavirus rules in Iceland. They will return to England from Reykjavik rather than traveling to Copenhagen on Monday Sept. 7, 2020, after social media video was published in Iceland purporting to show the players meeting women from outside the team bubble. Photo courtesy of Richard Heathcote / Pool via AP, File.

Manchester City, defensively, didn’t have the best season. It seemed the City defense lacked defensive positioning throughout the year. City’s play style is very much smash-mouth football. They love to keep possession, and when they lose the ball, they are very quick to press and win it back. City has a tendency to play a high line and Guardiola allows his center-backs to dribble into space in the opponent’s half of the field. The only issue with this is City doesn’t have the pace to get back. We saw it in their Champions League match against Lyon, where all of Lyon’s goals were off the counter-attack. So the center-back position is somewhere the club needs to improve in order to fix their problems.  

Guardiola has already brought in Dutch center-back Nathan Aké from English club Bournemouth, who was recently relegated from the Premier League, in the hope to fix those defensive issues the squad has. Unfortunately, City will be missing world-class center-back Aymeric Laporte, as the defender recently tested positive for COVID-19. That could mean Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho slides in as a center-back, or we could see England international John Stones get a chance to work his way back into the squad. Without a doubt, Manchester City will still be looking to sign a center-back in the transfer window.  

The player Pep has in mind is Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegal international is regarded as one of the best center-backs in the world as has been linked with a move to the Premier League for the last two seasons. There is no clear-cut answer if Koulibaly is on his way to City, but all signs are pointing in that direction.  

Manchester City without a doubt is one of the two best clubs in English football now. To say that they will continue their dominance in the league though is up in the air. Pep will hope to take back the title of Premier League Champions and leave his stamp in Europe by bringing City their first Champions League Trophy. Manchester City open up league play on Sept. 21 against Wolverhampton Wanderers.  

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