City Must Pick Up Points Against Fellow Top Six Sides Next Season

By Steve McMahon, Thu 15 June 2017 19:05


City Must Pick  Up Points Against Fellow Top Six Sides Next SeasonThe Blues picked up just ten points out of a possible 30 last season against their rivals

Pep Guardiola's first season in charge at the Etihad provided plenty of memorable moments but it ended without silverware. After a full season at the club and another large transfer kitty to dip into this summer,  he is tasked with reviving the fortunes of his side and overseeing significant improvements during the next 12 months. One of the Citizen's main issues was their failure to beat many of the sides around them in the table and that's a problem which must be resolved quickly.

Manchester City have started their transfer business early this summer, snapping up goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica for around £35 million. The 23 year old's arrival is likely to trigger the almost inevitable departure of England number one Joe Hart, who has been linked with a move to West Ham. 

Ederson is likely to be the first of many new additions at the North West club this summer, with Alexis Sanchez and Kyle Walker amongst the plethora of names mentioned in the press. The latter would replace the outgoing Pablo Zabaleta, who departed the club after nine years service.

Finishing 3rd in the table is far from a disaster but the club must continue to move forward. Further progress in both the Premier League and Champions League is a necessity. City finished 15 points behind winners Chelsea and just eight behind Spurs and that gap could have been bridged if they'd managed to obtain more than a single point in four encounters against the top two.

Pep's men were impressive against many of the sides in the bottom half of the table, doing the double over the likes of Swansea, Crystal Palace, and West Ham but they struggled against the majority of their top six rivals.
The champions beat City twice, winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and 3-1 at the Etihad in a tempestuous fixture that saw Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off. The two sides will cross swords again on the 30th of September in West London and the visitors mustn't be as open this time around against Antonio Conte's team.

They didn't fare much better against Spurs with a 9th minute Aleksandar Kolarov own goal leaving them with an uphill task at White Hart Lane. They weren't able to find a way past the resolute Tottenham backline, eventually losing 2-0. The sides played out a 2-2 draw at the Etihad at the start of 2017, with the hosts blowing a two goal lead in an entertaining 90 minutes of football.

A Sergio Aguero equaliser spared Pep's blushes in Manchester in March as they fought back to draw 1-1 with Liverpool. The Reds had taken the lead through James Milner and were just 20 minutes away from completing a potentially memorable double over Manchester City. If Adam Lallana hadn't missed a sitter, it might have been a very different story.

One of the club's rare successes against the top sides came towards the beginning of the season at Old Trafford, facing Manchester United in the first derby of the season. Goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho completed a 2-1 success over Jose Mourinho's side. The two clubs played out a drab goalless draw later in the season.

Arsenal provided less of a challenge with Manchester City, beating them 2-1 just before Christmas before a breathless contest at the start of April ended 2-2.

Pep's side even failed to beat 7th place Everton in any of the two meetings with the Toffees, losing 5-1 on aggregate; they were also hammered by reigning champions Leicester at the King Power.

Manchester City have been priced up as 2/1 favourites by William Hill for the 2017-18 Premier League title, ahead of both Chelsea and Manchester United, and anyone backing Pep's side for success next year can get a £30 free bet from the bookmaker when signing up for an account.

They start the season against Brighton at the AMEX which is far from straightforward. Newly promoted sides are always tough to break down and there should be a terrific atmosphere around the stadium. This is followed by a potentially tricky home tie against Everton.

Guardiola's first key fixture comes immediately after the international break when they host Liverpool at the Etihad on the 9th of September. The Reds have been tricky customers over the past couple of years, winning four of the last five meetings between the sides, with the aforementioned 1-1 draw ending that sequence of Liverpool dominance.

The first Manchester derby takes place on the 9th of December with the two rivals meeting again at the start of April.

Ilkay Gundogan missed a large chunk of last season through injury but is back in training and is targeting his return in time for the forthcoming season. The 26-year-old is capable of changing games and was badly missed in the second half of the campaign. He could be key in fixtures with top six sides. A sustained run in the team for Gabriel Jesus would also be beneficial.

Pep's side need to carry the expectation of being favourites for the title but they simply must beat the sides around them in order to justify it. They are unlikely to have any problems seeing off the likes of Watford, West Brom, and Bournemouth but the former Bayern Munich boss must find a way of out-thinking Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, and Antonio Conte.

Image sources - Football Pointer (@FootballPointer) via Twitter, uscityzens (@uscityzens) via Twitter

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