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Manchester City

Manchester City: 2017/18 Premier League Season Preview

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Manchester City

Pep Guardiola will be looking for a huge improvement on his debut season in the Premier League after, for the first-time in his managerial career, he ended a season without any silverware.

Despite being within touching range of the Premier League title challenge for most of the season, this eventually fell short – as did their FA Cup adventure and their quest for Champions League glory.

But after a heavy summer of additions in the summer transfer market, wasting no time in getting rid of the old and in with the new, City fans have the right to be full of anticipation heading into 2017-18.

How has their summer gone?

In a word, busy.

Within just two weeks of the Premier League season ending Pep Guardiola had already secured the signings of Bernardo Silva from Monaco (£43 million) and extremely talented goalkeeper Ederson Moraes from Benfica (£35 million), also releasing five men over 30-years-old in a ruthless clear-out.

Veteran defenders Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta, along with Willy Caballero and Jesus Navas, were all released to pave the way for fresh, young additions to boost City’s back-four.

And Guardiola kept true on his main promise to invest heavily in his defence, breaking the record transfer fee for defenders twice in the space of a few days through the signings of Kyle Walker from rivals Tottenham (£45 million) and the highly-rated Benjamin Mendy from Monaco (£52.5 million), before he fought off stiff competition from Chelsea to sign Real Madrid’s versatile man Danilo too (£26.5 million).

In other business of note, Aleksander Kolarov bid goodbye to the Etihad after seven years spent in Manchester in a switch to Roma whilst young Douglas Luiz was bought from Brazil’s Vasco Da Gama.

And amongst spending over £200 million, City managed a successful run-out in the International Champions Cup in the United States, losing to rivals United before beating Madrid and Tottenham.

Manager: Pep Guardiola

It’s fair to say that Pep Guardiola’s track record of winning needs no explanation after stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and despite an average debut year in England he’s now poised for a huge 12 months.

Although City failed to win when it mattered, ultimately ending the year trophy-less, the Spaniard was working with an ageing squad that needed investment – and that’s exactly what he’s now done.

It’s easy to forget how much of a tactical mathematician he is on the touch-line, and now he has added suitable wing-backs to his squad for the forthcoming season it’s not an understatement to say that Manchester City will be a real force to be reckoned with when going forward this campaign.

Now he’s put his own stamp on City’s squad, this upcoming season is there one where Guardiola’s managerial prowess can be fairly judged, and expect him to thrive and challenge for big trophies.

How could the Citizens line-up this season?

After investing an awful lot of money into his back five so far this summer Manchester City’s defensive line-up almost writes itself, spear-headed by the arrival of Benfica goalkeeper Ederson.

Captain Vincent Kompany will provide a stubborn figure in the heart of a back-three which should include both John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi – although the Argentinian’s spot could be in danger should City buy a centre-back – with £50million men Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker lining-up as the wing-backs.

The big question that Guardiola has to address this campaign though is how he fits all of his bountiful attacking options into one side, and whether he plays both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero in the starting eleven, but after trialling it successfully last year it seems he may start the year with both.

That leaves two attacking midfield positions for the likes of Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Kevin de Bruyne and the returning Ilkay Gundogan to fight for; not exactly a bad dilemma for Guardiola to have.

The form of [David] Silva and De Bruyne last season makes them almost un-droppable, but it still leaves City with an incredibly potent substitutes bench – and arguably the best bench in the entire league.

Who are Manchester City’s best fantasy football options?

It’s arguable that, forget the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne, the best value in terms of fantasy football comes in the shape of City’s new full-back duo of Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker.

Their advanced roles in the Manchester City side will always leave them open to assists in and around the final third – last season Mendy and Walker both earnt five each – whilst their listing as defenders means that they’ll coup a good sum of points any time City keep a clean sheet this season.

For a slightly less economical pick then look no further than David Silva, City’s influential midfield talisman, with it likely that the 31-year-old will still feature regularly in the starting eleven this year.

Despite missing part of last year through injury, the silky Spaniard still managed to find the back of the net four times and earn seven assists, and you just know he’ll be pivotal to the attack once more.

Fancy a new challenge this season? Sign up to Draft Fantasy Football and prove your knowledge of the Premier League!

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Premier League Verdict

After winning their first six Premier League games last season we’ve already seen a glimpse of what Manchester City could be like if firing on all cylinders, and after the amount of money that has been pumped into the squad this summer it’s highly expected they will be challenging for the title in May.

There doesn’t appear to be a real area of weakness throughout their starting eleven and, if Pep Guardiola can get his new signings to gel quickly, City will be a dangerous and prospect this season.

It’s arguably set to be the most competitive Premier League campaign in recent memory, with any one of the top six capable of winning it, but City – on paper – look like the best bet to go all the way.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

England

Manchester City talent Phil Foden is the missing piece of the jigsaw for England

Phil Foden is the midfielder England need to unpick opposition defences.

Mathew Nash

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It seems football is not yet coming home as England’s World Cup dream ended at the hands of Croatia last night. Despite taking a 1-0 lead the Three Lions could not find the necessary fortitude to win the game after extra-time, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the winner. But there is still great hope for the future and in Phil Foden, Manchester City may hold the key.

One area where England were lacking compared to their opponents was in midfield. Whilst Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard are both dynamic and abrasive and Jordan Henderson neat and tidy they did not have a world-beater in the middle of the park.

Croatia, on the other hand, did. Real Madrid star Luka Modric began to dictate play alongside the Barcelona pendulum Ivan Rakitic. With Marcelo Brozovic, arguably the best midfielder in Serie A post-January, also in midfield England could not get control of the game.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Which is where Foden comes in. The 18-year-old is the player that England were missing. The England under-17 World Champion and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year from 2017 is the future of England’s midfield.

He won a Premier League winner’s medal last season and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is a huge fan of his.

All the indications are that City will not loan Foden out next term. Instead, they plan to have him as part of the first-team squad.

If Manchester City can nurture his talent correctly then England will have that man in midfield who can create from nothing, find the incisive pass and provide for the players up top.

In four years time, he will be 22 and will have hopefully worked under Pep Guardiola for a number of years. Fitness and first-team football permitting, he could be the missing link that brings it home from Qatar in 2022.

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Germany

Has Leroy Sané been wrongfully dropped from Germany’s World Cup squad?

The 22-year-old will not be featuring in Russia.

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Leroy Sane
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City winger Leroy Sané has been left out of Germany’s 2018 World Cup squad.

It was today announced that the 22-year-old – who made Joachim Löw’s original 27-man provisional team – did not make the official 23-man tournament squad. This arguably comes as the biggest shock of the squad announcements so far.

Sané made 40 appearances this season in all competitions for City, scoring 14 goals and gaining 19 assists along the way in what was undoubtedly the best season of his career.

His performances and statistics were enough to gain him the Premier League’s ‘Young Player of the Year Award’ for the 2017/18 season, further adding to the surprise of his absence from Löw’s World Cup squad.

Germany’s record in recent tournaments is as unquestionable as the strength and depth they have within their squad. To make the final cut of Löw’s World Cup team is a feat within itself and Sané deserved that accolade this summer.

(Photo by Miguel Medina/Getty Images)

Making the squad at the expense of Sané; Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Julian Draxler (PSG), Mario Gomez (Stuttgart) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig).

Sané has similar attributes to these five players which is why it is difficult to comprehend any argument for the City wingers absence.

With the exception of Leipzig’s Werner, all of the above scored fewer goals last season than Sané and, on top of that, every player also had far fewer assists than the City winger, with the next closest to him being Arsenal’s Özil with 12 (seven behind).

In fact, if you add Rudy, Draxler and Gomez’s assists together (13), you’d still have six fewer than Sane’s. Combine all of the major statistics relevant to an attacking midfielder/forward’s role, Sané is ahead of every name on this list.

It obviously isn’t all about the statistics, however, and when you consider the calibre of attacking teammates Sané had to work with this season, it is understandable why his personal statistics are so high.

However, a World Cup squad should be the 23 best men at that time to represent their country.

When you consider the jaw-dropping football Manchester City played in this record breaking Premier League season – and Sané’s significant impact in that – surely it is inconceivable to think that he is not within the best 23 players of his nation.

It is difficult to second guess an international manager with the record of Joachim Löw. However, compile all of the statistical evidence with the eye test and it is difficult to understand how Leroy Sané will not be representing Germany in Russia this month.

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Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s poor China record should give West Ham cause for concern

The Chilean international looks set to join the Hammers.

Max Cohen

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Pellegrini
Photo: Getty Images

As Manuel Pellegrini inches closer to being named West Ham United’s new manager, many have applauded the potential appointment of a Premier League-winning boss.

With spells at some of the world’s most successful clubs, the Chilean is certainly an impressive acquisition for the Hammers.

Yet Pellegrini’s most recent coaching assignment has been nothing short of mediocre, a sign that should slightly worry West Ham supporters.

Pellegrini officially left Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune on Saturday, after just under two years at the club.

The Chilean was appointed in August 2016 and registered an unspectacular record at the club.

Pellegrini’s first season ended with Hebei in fourth position, yet the club missed out on AFC Champions League qualification by one place.

This year, the team has taken a dramatic step back in the opening months of the season.

(Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Under Pellegrini’s management, Hebei China Fortune currently sit eighth out of the 16-team Chinese Super League.

The side has only picked up just 15 points from 11 matches to date, a disappointing return considering Pellegrini has talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hernanes, and Gervinho at his disposal.

As the Chinese Super League is a far less important and internationally relevant league than La Liga or the Premier League, Pellegrini can perhaps be forgiven for not taking his job as seriously as his past assignments at Malaga, Real Madrid, and Manchester City.

Yet, his Chinese struggles are worrying nonetheless, as ideally West Ham supporters would like to be acquiring the services of a manager who enjoyed success at his most recent club.

In all, the ex-Manchester City manager still has a Premier League title to his name, a fact that makes his recent tough spell in Asia less concerning.

Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini’s underwhelming time at Hebei China Fortune reveals that the manager still possesses flaws and should not be expected to work immediate wonders at West Ham.

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