Manchester City Premier League preview 2014/15

Three days and counting. After the supposed pinnacle of world football has passed by this summer with just a restrained flicker of personal interest, the real thing is once again upon us. The World Cup is about patriotism and over-eulogistic pundits, corruption, play-acting and, in the end… victory through German proficiency. The Premier League replaces patriotism with history, eulogy with reality, corruption and play-acting with fairness and passion and, in the end… another Manchester City victory. If only all of that were true.

Looking at my predictions for last season, I think I did okay.

My prediction for last season:

  1. Man City
  2. Chelsea
  3. Arsenal
  4. Man Utd
  5. Spurs
  6. Liverpool

Actual:

  1. Man City
  2. Liverpool
  3. Chelsea
  4. Arsenal
  5. Everton
  6. Spurs

Two teams performed unexpectedly. It saddens me to say, Manchester United were terrible, almost embarrassingly bad. I was expecting a slip from first to fourth, but the severity of their demise was, other than City winning the title, the highlight of the season. Liverpool, superbly managed by Brendan Rodgers, benefitted from a lack of top level European competition, and would have been worthy champions had their incredible unbeaten run continued to the end of the season. But it didn’t. They slipped, and City held their nerve proving once again the ‘typical City’ tag is well and truly buried.

mangala

So what for the season ahead? The managerial headlines, typically the divine property of the enigmatic, egomaniac Mourinho, will be rivalled by United’s saviour, Van Gaal. Give me the grace, skill and class of Pellegrini any day. Last season’s top four have all spent big money on players, and were it not for Van Gaal’s appointment I would say the same teams would occupy the top four places, but the Dutchman’s proven ability and experience, coupled with Liverpool’s pending European venture and the vital loss of Suarez will see United clamber to a Champions League spot and Liverpool just missing out.

The fact is, there are five teams who have a serious chance of winning the title, and that is fantastic for the league. Chelsea have bought a world-class forward to go alongside Torres. So now they have one. Fabregas isn’t a bad buy either, so they’re definitely a stronger team than last year, despite selling the world’s best defender, David Luiz. Arsenal have spent well too and will have more pace going forward, so their challenge will be enhanced. Liverpool surprised me last season, but without Suarez and with the burden of the Champions League I will be amazed if they can perform with the same intensity. Fourth at best, I think. United could win the league, or they could finish outside the Champions League places. As good as Van Gaal is, they need some new players beyond Shaw and Herrera. Vidal will help, but they need more.

sagna

So why City for their third title in four years? We had one slight, over-emphasised weakness last season. As good as Demichelis became, he took a while to adapt, costing us points at times. His lack of pace, especially when playing alongside anyone other than Kompany, cost us. Mangala should solve that problem. Elsewhere we’ve strengthened at right-back with the addition of Sagna, in midfield with Lampard and Fernando, in the nets with Caballero, and with the pre-season fitness and form of Jovetic who through injury only played 13 times last season we now have four world-class goalscorers.

But, whilst some pundits may wrongly say our signings have been ‘uninspiring’, there are two other reasons why we’ll be stronger than last season. Firstly, our confidence will be sky high. Confidence in our ability to stay the distance, to be unaffected by Mourinho’s bullshit and to know that with our current squad we have been there and done it. Secondly, four of our best players (if not the best) – Aguero, Kompany, Silva and Toure – missed a total of 39 games last season – an average of over a quarter of the season each. Yet we survived their loss, a loss unlikely to be repeated this season.

fernando

Football, for all of its faults, continues to suck me in. Sometimes I struggle to understand why, until… the first weekend comes and my season-long addiction hits me again. My prediction for 2014/15, for what it’s worth…

  1. Man City
  2. Chelsea
  3. Arsenal
  4. Man Utd
  5. Liverpool
  6. Everton

Photographs taken from the Manchester City website

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