Premier League 2019-20: 5 things Manchester City should do to keep Liverpool at bay
Should City be cautious?
Pep Guardiola succeeded in defending his Premier League winners' spot but he did it by the skin of his teeth and he knows it. His once marauding Manchester City side of the 2017-18 season had gathered a record 100 points and had won the title with 5 games to spare, breaking multiple new records in the process.
In stark contrast, Pep had to overcome a stubborn Liverpool side that kept the pressure on till the last day of the 2018-19 campaign, nicking it in the end by a solitary point. After seeing Klopp's side win the Champions League while defeating the likes of Barcelona in such emphatic fashion, Pep knows that the gap in quality to his squad has been reduced completely and he will look to build this summer.
But where does City need to build?
Gaps in defense:
The departure of Vincent Kompany has to be adequately addressed by Pep, as City are not only losing a centre-back, but a leader who could push his troops to go the extra yard. Kompany's eleven year tenure at City would mean that there are big shoes to fill and this would be Pep's most crucial piece of the jigsaw if he has to solve the puzzle of keeping Liverpool at bay.
The fact that Kompany could not only defend but help out in attack with sumptuous long range efforts when his side needed it, is a testimony to his greatness on the pitch. Liverpool have a very similar player in that role and have no dearth of size or stature in van Dijk who didn't allow a single dribble past him all season.
Pep Guardiola would need to find a new leader among the ranks or replace Kompany with an upgrade. Kyle Walker is out-wide, while Laporte and Stones, although technically adept, lack the commanding presence of a captain.
The midfield is Pep's marvelous engine, but...
The fluidly interchanging midfield from one wing to the other or vertically upwards in neat triangles between defensive pockets require the softest of touches and skillful dribble after retention.
Pep's demure wizards with a very low centre of gravity have always worked wonders in midfield having the required skill set and positional know-how during off-the-ball movement. However, a number of these players go out of contract in 2020 and are yet to sign a new deal with City.
33-year-old David Silva, who's contract expires in 2020, has not been given a new contract, yet City are hoping he doesn't leave the club this summer.
29-year-old Fabian Delph's contract expires in 2020 and he is looking to move due to limited match time at City.
28-year-old Ilkay Gundogan who had more opportunities than Delph is still agitated that he doesn't feature as much, and has his own contract running out in 2020.
A potential exodus awaits City if Pep and his negotiators are not able to tie down the players who have been vital cogs in the oiled Manchester City machinery from time to time. There will be an understandable culling of deadwood but City need to retain the depth in their squad if they have to compete on all fronts.
"Agueroooooooooooooooo" - One word that evokes an emotion in the City fan base that they don't need anyone else, but even the most ludicrous City supporter knows that it is time to find an upgrade on the 31-year-old as he slides over his peak years. Gabriel Jesus might be prolific in Aguero's absence but City do need reinforcements in the central role, sooner or later.
Matters are further complicated with the lethal Leroy Sane wanting to leave as he got only three starts in City's last twelve games of the season. His contract runs down in 2020 as well. Bayern Munich have also come knocking with £70.7 million for the German winger who they feel need to be in the limelight to stay in the national team and are using that to lure him away.
However, the City management are not budging just yet but they would be a lot better if they were in the market for an attacking winger just in case the Germans come back with an offer that they cannot refuse. Mahrez and Sterling may not be enough for the entire campaign next season.
Liverpool are at the gates
Klopp has promised Guardiola that he will give them a tough fight again next season and Pep, who is more the anxious type than his effervescently positive Merseyside counterpart, needs a big summer this time around just to keep his squad's competitiveness at the same level.
In the end, the authoritative video released by the Citizens on the online video-on-demand portal so triumphantly claims that it is "All or Nothing".
Klopp must be grinning even wider in his sleep, somewhere.Published 07 Jun 2019, 21:40 IST