Premier League 2020/21: Manchester City Season Preview
2019-20 finish: Second in Premier League (26W-3D-9L, 81 points)
Head coach: Pep Guardiola
2019-20 top scorer: Raheem Sterling (20 goals)
Other Trophies: None
Manchester City did lose out on the Premier League title to Liverpool by quite a big margin last season but nobody can deny that they have been the most consistent team in the Premier League over the course of the last three editions. They won the title in two back-to-back seasons (2017/18 and 2018/19) and then went on to finish second last time around as well. That's the kind of success anybody would be content with.
However, what surprised everyone last season was that they returned empty-handed as far as other major trophies are considered. Yes, they did win the Carabao Cup but their exit from the FA Cup in the semi-finals and the Champions League in the quarter-finals was pretty hard to digest for the fans. And that is understandable as Manchester City not only have World Class players -- Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling among others -- but their manager, Pep Guardiola, is one of the best in the business as well.
Issues Man City faced last season
When you look at the attacking and defensive stats of all the teams in the 2019/20 Premier League season, you would find that City not only scored the most number of goals (102) but conceded the second least number of goals (35) as well. These numbers sum up that they were clinical in both departments but these numbers don't present the complete picture.
A lot of the goals they conceded were in narrow losses. City's first-choice centre back Aymeric Laporte spent the major part of the season on the sidelines due to injury and Sergio Aguero had to sit out for a large number of games with injuries as well. Laporte's absence at the back meant Guardiola didn't have enough quality in that role anymore and Raheem Sterling's patchy form towards the middle of the season in absence of Aguero only made things more difficult for him.
The vulnerability of the centre back region meant the midfielders had to cover with them during attacks from the opposition. That left City's play from counterattacks pretty weak and most teams targeted this weakness towards the closing stages of the season.
Have the issues been resolved?
Guardiola has been seen busy shopping centre backs in the summer transfer window. He has already brought the services of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth and is reportedly after Jose Gimenez and Kalidou Koulibaly as well. Clearly, he is addressing the need for quality centre backs as a backup in case Laporte gets injured once again.
Moreover, he is also strengthening the midfield and forward lines further. Guardiola has brought the talented Ferran Torres and Pablo Moreno from Valencia and Juventus respectively. Scott Carson is another talented youngster he has loaned in from Derby County.
David Silva's exit from the club has clearly left a big void in their midfield. The likes of Phil Foden will now be expected to attain their first-team roles for the club whereas Guardiola's new recruits will be preparing themselves on the sidelines to deliver when the opportunity comes. So the Manchester City gaffer has clearly identified what went wrong last season and has been trying his best to plug those holes.
Prediction for the 2020/21 season
Last season's disappointment has only made Guardiola even more desperate for tasting success this time. At least one major silverware will definitely be on Guardiola's wishlist for this season and with major holes plugged in their squad, City looks primed to achieve that target this season.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Peter Powell