The eve of the new Premier League season has brought pundits and predictions out in their droves.
Every man and his dog has an opinion on who will be crowned champions next May and we’ve picked out a few nuggets from the reams of features previewing the new campaign.
To kick-off, though, a quick word from Arsenal star Mesut Ozil who has revealed he encouraged Leroy Sane’s move to City this summer.
The Express carry the story: “Ozil has revealed he had a helping hand in Leroy Sane’s switch to Manchester City.
“And Ozil claims he gave Sane advice before joining City.
‘Naturally, the Premier League was a topic we discussed several times,’ Ozil said. ‘I told Leroy that I regard it as the best league in the world and that young players can develop well there.
‘That is why I was happy for him when the transfer materialised. He will improve a lot under Pep Guardiola.’
If Leroy grabs the goal that denies the Gunners the title in nine months’ time, Mesut may feel differently!
So to the pundits and former players…
We’ll start with Jamie Redknapp’s feature in the Mail – his ’10 players to watch’ article which (as you may have sussed, includes a couple of City players).
Redknapp writes: “People are very quick to criticise Stones when he makes a mistake. He is the best centre back this country has produced for a long time and we should let him fulfil his promise.
“He can thrive at Manchester City now he has made his £47.5m move from Everton, and I want Sam Allardyce to build England’s defence around this hugely talented player.”
He also includes that man Sane, too – in fact, he lists him at No.1, adding: “At just 20, the winger already looks the real deal — he has excellent feet, moves the ball really well and looks as quick on the ball as he does off it.
“It wasn’t that long ago we were talking about Manchester City having an ageing team. Now they have a good few younger stars with Sane, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan all aged 25 or under.
“Sane may well need a little time to get used to the Premier League and we should be patient with him, although by Christmas I expect the German ace to have hit top gear.”
The Irish Examiner’s Liam Mackey has penned a thoughtful season preview, tipping the Blues to edge the title ahead of United as he writes: “Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford also reignites his rivalry with Pep Guardiola, now that Manchester City have finally got the man they had long targeted as their own special one, a manager they believe is capable of turning would-be galacticos into masters of Europe.
“The consensus is that the task will represent much more of a challenge than did taking over at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where superstars and serial success were already taken for granted, but pound for pound I’d regard City as having the most formidable creative and attacking clout in the Premier League and, with the likes of Leroy Sane, Nolito and, in due course, Ilkay Gundogan newly in the mix alongside such potent talents as Aguero, De Bruyne and Silva, they should be capable of outgunning the rest.
“Instilling the kind of team spirit which breeds a consistent level of performance will be a key ingredient but whether the Pep effect extends to solidifying the defence is another matter. However, even with that significant caveat, I’d have City as favourites to lift the title, before they can begin properly training their sights on conquering Europe.”
There’s plenty more like that around this morning, however, let’s end with a few words from tomorrow’s opponents who believe amid all the drama and change at the Etihad, there’s a chance to catch the new-look Blues napping tomorrow.
Sunderland newspaper the Chronicle report: “On the face of it, the game appears a mismatch but Fabio Borini says the first weekend of the season may not be a bad time to face City, with Guardiola yet to experience the Premier League, and while several of his stars may still be feeling the after-effects of a summer spent playing international football.
‘They have international players away with the Euros and Olympics and some of their players may have only been back a week,’ said Borini.
‘They may not have the ideas straight in their head about what Guardiola wants, I agree, there is probably no better time to play against them.
‘When we play against City maybe we get the extra motivation because we know they are a big club, spend loads of money and we want to show them we are not so little.
‘We have done that in the past, why not now?’
That’s it for today – keep dipping in on mancity,com throughout the day for all the latest developments and breaking news stories from the world of football.