Mens Team

Premier League 2018/19: Season preview

CHAMPIONS 18: What a nice looking trophy
The new Premier League season kicks off this weekend. Can Manchester City win the title again? We've taken a look at a few talking points ahead of the new campaign...

1City's hunger games

Pep Guardiola has spoken of his own hunger to taste success with the Club once again this season and he has challenged his players to maintain the desire and commitment that proved so irresistible last term.

Given the fact that no side has retained the Premier League title since Manchester United back in 2008/9, the scale of the challenge facing City this season is crystal clear.

However as he looked ahead to the new season earlier this month, Pep offered a fascinating insight into the drive, passion and quest to never rest on his laurels which has garnered such remarkable results throughout his managerial career.

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“I don’t have an answer, I'll try to do what I did in Barca and Bayern, to be harder with my players,” Pep revealed.

“After winning the players can have the ‘I’m really good’ mentality but that’s the moment you go down.

“I will just be clear with them, try to be fair with what I see on the pitch and off the pitch, and try to choose the right line-ups, and take it game by game.”

2Mendy back in business

It’s an oft-used football cliché, but Benjamin Mendy really will be like a new signing for City this season.

He was restricted to just eight appearances last season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in our home win over Crystal Palace last September.

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Benjamin proved his character and grit by returning to action earlier than expected before the end of last season and was then part of the France squad which secured World Cup glory at Russia 2018.

As he demonstrated with a commanding individual display against Chelsea in last Sunday's Community Shield victory, Mendy looks back to his marauding best with his pace and superb crossing ability adding another dimension to City's attacking weaponry.

The Frenchman’s return also gives manager Pep Guardiola the option of playing three at the back, which is the kind of flexibility the manager will need this season with opposition sides likely to play defensively against us.

3Laporte's quiet brilliance

One player who has perhaps gone under the radar somewhat since his move to the Club in January is Aymeric Laporte.

Coming in during the mid-season transfer window is never easy, particularly when arriving from abroad.

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But now, with six months of Premier League football and a full pre-season behind him, he looks set to have a significant impact.

Laporte has everything a modern-day centre-back needs. Aerially, he is excellent, and his pace and power mean he is never going to be bullied by centre-forwards.

And with the ball at his feet, he excels. His long-range passing is outstanding, and as his confidence grows, the number of times he brings the ball out from the back is increasing.

He looks a very accomplished player.

4Rivals desperate to catch up

The Premier League is full of top-class managers. Jurgen Klopp, Maurizio Sarri, Unai Emery, Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho – it’s a quality line-up that promises plenty.

And the number one priority for our rivals is to make sure they catch us.

Winning the title with a 19-point margin last season was momentous – but everyone starts from zero this weekend and only renewed effort and focus will see us become the first team since United in 2009 to defend the Premier League crown. 

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5Impact of Mahrez

Amongst the many intriguing sub-plots looking ahead to the 2018/19 campaign will be seeing the impact of summer signing Riyad Mahrez.

There have already been encouraging signs of the many exciting qualities possessed by the Algerian attacking winger, both during our pre-season tour to the United States as well as in last weekend’s Community Shield victory over Chelsea.

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Blessed with superb technique, wonderful vision, and possessing a penchant for scoring vital goals, Mahrez would be an asset to any team.

However, the versatility he offers Guardiola, given the 27-year-old is capable of playing on both the right and left flanks as well as operating more centrally, means he could prove to be a crucial figure for the Club this season.

And that flexibility could well give City that vital extra cutting edge not just in the Premier League, where he shone with former side Leicester, but also on the Champions League stage too.

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