A well-documented summer of failed transfer pursuits and a cooldown period from a disappointing showing in their first ever UEFA Champions League final, Manchester City have arrived at the 2021/22 Premier League with a serious point to prove.
And despite the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool getting the community talking about title ambitions, Pep Guardiola and co. have already demonstrated exactly the kind of steely experience and pedigree needed to dominate at the top end of the table.
Here’s exactly why Manchester City have shown they are the 2021/22 Premier League team to beat.
Setting The Standard
Every year before a new season of the Barclay’s Premier League kicks off, attention from fans and pundits alike is usually reserved for which teams in the chasing pack are going to be able to take that next big step forward and claim the title for themselves.
It feels as though the focus is usually reserved for why these other challengers are now more equipped to take the throne away from the previous season’s winners, rather than why the champions are all set to go again. However, winning a Premier League title is one of the toughest achievements in world football, and sometimes it takes a few results in a new season to remind the community of the calibre these league champions possess.
And that was certainly the case with Manchester City and their recent win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
Class Is Permanent
Following the pair reaching the 2021 UEFA Champions League final, both Manchester City and Chelsea arrived ahead of the 2021/22 Premier League nestled amongst the favourites in most football spread betting markets.
The Blues’ win in the Champions League, Tuchel’s three triumphs over Guardiola in the same season, and their acquisition of Romelu Lukaku for £97.5 million might have had the pundits purring about Chelsea being the team to beat, however City’s 1-0 win at the Bridge was a firm reminder to all of those that Guardiola’s Cityzens are still the team to beat.
Though their well-documented approaches for Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane fell through, City are still a side with a level of pedigree in their ranks few sides in the world can claim to match. What’s more, the team have more experience in winning the league than anyone else around them, scooping up three of the last four titles at the time of writing.
Whilst their 2020/21 campaign might not have been the most vintage of displays, the likes of which the football world was used to seeing from 2017-2019, there is an added resoluteness to the way Manchester City are set up than before.
The acquisition of Ruben Dias last season has transformed the team from being a front-foot possession-based side, to one that is far sturdier at the back, with a high pressing line that even the most capable of opponents can withstand. That level of press was exposed to its full effect in the win over Chelsea, with City not creating the most amount of chances in the world, but successfully managing to keep their opponents hemmed in their own half of the pitch for the vast majority of the game.
Needing A Striker?
The failure to bring in an outright number nine to replace Sergio Aguero has been the biggest stick in which to beat Manchester City with this season, however one look at the quality still in the Manchester City ranks perhaps makes this a bit of a redundant discussion.
Ilkay Gundogan finished as Manchester City’s top goalscorer in the league with 13 goals, and Guardiola has often been a manager all too happy to employ a midfielder in a false nine, rather than a potent goal poacher like Aguero, Ronaldo or Kane.
Even a figure like Gabriel Jesus, the player with the number nine on his back, has looked more comfortable being deployed on the right wing rather than as a central focal point in the attack, showcasing that the lack of a true goalscorer is hardly a major obstacle in enforcing the kind of set up Guardiola and his coaching staff need to challenge at the top of the table.