The 2015/16 season will be remembered as a breakthrough campaign for Manchester City in Europe as they made the semi-final of the Champions League before losing 1-0 on aggregate to eventual winners Real Madrid.
However, their domestic form nosedived after Christmas and they had to rely on West Ham beating Manchester United in the final game at Upton Park to secure a top four finish and qualification for this year’s tournament.
In fairness to then manager Manual Pellegrini, that dip also coincided with the appointment of Pep Guardiola, and city’s players certainly seemed to lose focus after it was revealed in February the Spaniard would take over this summer.
Guardiola’s arrival marks a fresh start for the Citizens, although with so much talent in the Premier League this season there are no guarantees of success. Even with Pep in the dugout.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Guardiola is widely considered the best manager on the planet and his trophy haul at Bayern Munich and Barcelona speaks for itself. His record of developing young players should allow the club to tap into Raheem Sterling’s potential, while Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho will also benefit from working with him. Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Nolito look sensible additions and should fill in some of the gaps from the squad last season.
Reasons to be fearful:
The defence still looks a problem area when Vincent Kompany is unfit while the club could be struggle for goals if Sergio Aguero was injured. Guardiola has never managed in the Premier League before and it is unclear how his possession-based system will cope in such a high-intensity league. The fact that Manchester United and Chelsea – likely to be City’s main rivals for the title – are not in the Champions League doesn’t help either.
Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund, £21m), Nolito (Celta Vigo, £13.8m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (FK Ufa, undisclosed), Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City, free), Leroy Sane (Schalke, £37m), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras, £27m), John Stones (Everton, £47.5m).
Out the door:
Seko Fofana (Udinese, £3.8m), Florian Lejeune (Eibar, £1.2m), Martin Demichelis (released), Richard Wright (retired), Jack Byrne (Blackburn, loan), Luke Brattan (Melbourne City, loan), Anthony Caceres (Melbourne City, loan), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield, loan).
Key man: Sergio Aguero – The Argentinian striker is vital to City and Pep Guardiola will be desperate to keep him fit and healthy.
One to watch:
Kelechi Iheanacho – The youngster got a few chances last season and will be keen to get more game time this time around.
First five games:
Sunderland (H) – Live on BT Sport 1, Stoke City (A), West Ham (H), Manchester United (A), Bournemouth (H).
Click on your favourite club's name below for BT Sport's full preview:
Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.