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The A-Z guide to Manchester City

Shambhu Ajith
344   //    26 Aug 2017, 14:33 IST

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League - Etihad Stadium : News Photo

A for Arrivals- Manchester City, as is characteristic of the region from where their money comes in, are a little too wary of foreign invasion. Or so it would seem. They shelled out in excess of £130m to fortify their defence and upgrade their goal security; because screams of Bravo didn't exactly come in admiration this past season.

B for (from) Back to Front- Pep hates half chances. So he doesn't want any long balls being telegraphed to the centre and pin his hopes on it ending up on a friendly limb. That's why he wants defenders who can play the ball out from the back with efficiency.

C for Consistency (the lack of it)- Overwhelming highs and dismal lows plagued Manchester City's first season under Pep Guardiola. They started off winning the first 6 Premier League games in a row before slowly phasing themselves out of a title challenge owing to a lack of consistency.

D for De Bruyne- Arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League right now, De Bruyne's form is what will spur City on to glory this term.

There's a de
That's a disheartening sight for any footballer.

E for Empty Etihad- Etihad fixtures are what City will have to make the most out of. They had 7 draws and 1 loss at their home-ground last season. The fact that several blue colored chairs stay clean sans any warmth doesn't help. The fans need to show up and get behind the Blues. Their city rivals, United, don't need a clearance sale for their tickets and they shouldn't either.

F for False 8s- Integrating two attacking midfielders is a tough job but Pep has found a way to get the most out of his two best players-- David Silva and De Bruyne-- by using them as False 8s. Both of them have to get forward and fall back in equal measure. Silva and De Bruyne have to exploit the pockets of space between the opposition's defence and midfield. So when City are in top gear and are nearing the final third, there's an overload of attackers with two wingers who will generally be free. This is because the defenders are caught between covering Silva and De Bruyne and taking care of the danger on the flanks.

G for Goalkeeping woes- Claudio Bravo's guarding of the goal was as good as that of a paranoid night watchman. City will hope that their big money acquisition Ederson will be able to protect the nets from external forces. Pep also wants his goalkeepers to be good with their feet as every move starts from the backline. This is one area Bravo had excelled at in his debut season in the Premier League.

H for High expectations- Most pundits have picked City as the favorites to win the Premier League this season. Pep is one of the most successful managers in the world right now and City fans will undoubtedly be expecting him to work his magic this season.

I for Impressive pre-season- Though they started out losing against a fitter United side which had already played 2 games, City steadily improved through the pre-season tour in the U.S.A. They thrashed Real Madrid 4-1 and got the better of Spurs in a delightful display which ended at 3-0. They had pace, they had the guile and the cutting edge to finish games off.

J for January Jesus- In the absence of Aguero, City had their peace breached. But in the January transfer window Gabriel Jesus arrived and City look like they've found their saviour. To give a player of Aguero's calibre sleepless nights is achievement enough and Pep is going to have a tough time deciding who will be leading their attacks this term.

K for Killing off games- The lethality that City showcased in the beginning of last season and towards the end is something they should incorporate no matter what. They need to kick their opposition out of the game and they have a strike-force capable of doing just that.

L for Legal Trouble- Manchester City's business has taken on some shady undertones and were on the verge of facing a transfer ban earlier this summer. Signing Benjamin Garre, an Argentine teenager from Velez Sarsfield, sent City to the courthouse as his former club complained to FIFA claiming an illegal approach. City were eventually cleared of the accusation. Later, AS Monaco were ready to snitch on City who they believed made contact with Kylian Mbappe without their permission.

With Bernardo Silva added to the squad, their midfield looks ominous.

M for Midfield of bosses- City's midfield looks ominous. David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Toure, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Need I say more?

N for Not just Noisy neighbours anymore- City have grown out of the tag of being United's noisy neighbours. They have got the better of their rivals on most occasions in the recent past and are not merely an intermittent disturbance annoyance. They're mainstream hustlers.

O for October Blues- After a steady run of form which saw Pep winning his first 10 matches across all competitions in the 2016/17 campaign, the Blues endured a disappointing month of October. 5 games without a win upset their form and though they recovered they didn't show the promise they did at the start of the campaign. So City will not want any of that this season.

FC Bayern Audi China Summer Tour 2015 - Press Conference
Pep looked a bit flustered when faced with adversity.

P for Pep- Though we've gone through this over and over again, I think it is still understated. Yes, City have got Pep Guardiola. Pep Guardiola! I just don't think you understand. 2 Champions League titles, 3 Bundesligas and 3 La Ligas! Comprende?

Q for No Qualifiers this time for Champions League- City finished 3rd in the 2016/17 campaign and have straight up qualified for the Champions League group stage. They had to play the qualifiers last time around and this time, they don't have that pressure to bother them.

R for Rivals look strong- City's bitter rivals Manchester United look the strongest they have in years and I can't wait for the local derby because the talent on offer is sterling (bad pun, couldn't resist).

S for Sergio Aguero- Sergio Kun Aguero has been one of the best strikers in the Premier League and the influence he has on the team resonated in their dismal showings in his absence. Though Gabriel Jesus provides another solid option up front for Pep, Aguero still has a lot of quality to offer and will have a significant role to play this season.

T for Trophyless- In his debut season, Pep Guardiola had to finish the season with no trophies to embellish City's cabinet. They will not want it happening again.

U for Utility boy Fernandinho- Having been deployed as a centre midfielder, defensive midfielder and even as a wingback at times, Fernandinho is the quintessential squad player who Pep will rely on as the season progresses when untimely surprises show up knocking. In Pep's system that works with inverted full-backs, Fernandinho plays a huge role moving to the backline as the fullbacks join the attack. He becomes the pivot who starts off anything and everything on the productive front.

V for Vendetta- Pep's side lost twice against Chelsea. They couldn't get the better of Liverpool, Spurs and Everton neither at home nor away. In fact, these are the big game losses that got them kicked out of the title race. It is only par for the course that City show up with vendetta on their minds this time around.

W for Wingers and Width- Pep Guardiola loves his wingers and wants them to provide width around the final third. But once they're in the final third, they're free to do as they wish. This is where the qualities of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane will help them. Both of them are gifted with quick feet and they will use it to confuse the defenders and cause chaos in the final third.

X for X-Factor- The Manchester City squad is packed with match winners who have the ability to shift the tide in their favour through sparks of individual brilliance. In short, there's a handful of players in the line-up who can be the X-Factor on a dull day.

City's youth system is doing well at the moment.

Y for Young talent- A 17-year-old Phil Foden was perhaps the best City player on the pitch in their pre-season match against Manchester United. Brahim Diaz, 18 years of age, scored a peach against Real Madrid. Manchester United and a host of other clubs were reportedly keen on signing a 17-year-old Jadon Sancho from City's academy. The youth system seems to be flourishing and City will reap its benefits in the near future.

Z for Zealousness- The fans, the players, and the manager have to come together and show some real zeal so if they ever get shoved to the ground, they'll pick themselves right back up and remain focused on getting the trophies.

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Shambhu Ajith
Football is a whole skill to itself. A whole world. A whole universe to itself. Football is freedom - Bob Marley
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