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Premier League 2018/19: Rating the title contenders so far: Manchester City

Manchester City v Newcastle United - Premier League
Pep Guardiola - Manchester City
Corey Bates
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 03 Sep 2018
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Current Premier League champions Manchester City were undoubtedly the favourites to retain the title this season before the campaign began. With a squad strength far superior to any other and with Pep Guardiola at the helm, their dominance in last season's title victory looked set to continue into the current campaign.

A convincing 2-0 victory against Arsenal on the opening game of the season for City looked to set the tone for the season. However, after 4 games City are currently 4th in the League table, with a surprising 1-1 draw against Wolves shattering their air of invincibility.

Despite the draw, City's stats this season are superior to any other title contender, with the highest average possession (65.8%), highest pass success rate (89.4%) and highest shots per game (22.8) so far this campaign. With 11 goals scored already in the 4 games played, including 6 against Huddersfield, City's attacking threat Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus have already registered 6 goals between them. And with 7 different goalscorers amongst the squad at this early stage, Guardiola's men look relentless in their bid to be the first team to win two consecutive Premier League titles.

With Riyad Mahrez being City's only major signing in the summer, Guardiola has resisted the temptation to mix up the team that achieved a record haul of Premier League points last season, and with good reason. The squad has strength in depth in every position, and with Benjamin Mendy back to full fitness, the starting eleven already looks a stronger side than City were able to field in the previous campaign.

Manchester City v Newcastle United - Premier League
Benjamin Mendy v Newcastle United - Premier League

The return to fitness of Mendy is possibly the highlight of city's campaign so far. Having missed most of last season, Fabian Delph's deputising at left back was defensively successful, but left a lot to be desired in the form of attacking prowess that Kyle Walker offers down the right hand side. With Mendy now taking that position, City have pace, power and an attacking threat on both flanks, which may have come to the detriment of Leroy Sane, who has yet to find himself a fixture in City's first team despite a stellar campaign last season.

With performance levels already reaching the ones found by them in last season's dominant campaign, City certainly look to be the team to beat for the Premier League crown. However, the draw against Wolves is a blot on their season, and if other teams are able to replicate the compact defending and counter-attacking spirit that worked so well for Wolves then City may find that more teams have an answer to their attacking play than there was last season. If this is the case, Guardiola may need to formulate a tactical plan B, a challenge which he hasn't yet had to face.

Rating so far: 8/10

See also:

Rating the PL contenders so far... Arsenal

Rating the PL contenders so far... Chelsea

Rating the PL contenders so far... Liverpool

Rating the PL contenders so far... Manchester United

Rating the PL contenders so far... Tottenham Hotspur

Published 03 Sep 2018
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