EPL: Why Manchester City Will Win the 2012-13 Premier League Title
Forty-four years is a long old time to endure when your team is not only not winning the top division of English football, but aimlessly floundering around its lower depths for some time—and your biggest rival is winning everything in sight.
Not easily, therefore, will Manchester City want to give up the Premier League title that was so dramatically won by them on the final day, and in the final minute, of last season.
Three successive summers of heavy spending and recruiting from the top of world football's dining table have seen City perched as favourites to retain their Premier League crown for the 2012-13 season, and not without reason.
The summer of 2009 saw the likes of Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor beef up the attack, while Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott have proved shrewd longer-term buys from closer to home.
Follow that up with Adam Johnson in the winter window, and City were starting to shape their squad to challenge for trophies.
It was arguably in 2010 where saw the real direction that the Citizens were heading—Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and David Silva were all massive signings on extreme wages. City were ready, willing and able to splash the cash on big names with the view of chasing trophies.
A hard season's toil saw them end up with the FA Cup—the first piece of silverware under the new regime.
The first piece under any regime for 42 years.
Then in came the final pieces of the jigsaw for the last third: Samir Nasri and, above all else, Sergio Aguero.
Can City really live up to the hype the season after and do it all again?
Roberto Mancini as manager divides opinions at times—considered too naturally reserved and defensive only 15 months ago to ever land the title—but he was lauded as creating a side playing the best football in the division at different points last season.
He is, however, tactically aware and strong enough to make big decisions when it really matters. The players—for the most part, at least—seem to respect him. He has gained more than enough credit with the fans after two wins in two seasons to outlast any bumpy rides along the way with a rowdy, egotastical player or two.
Then there is City's limitless funds.
Which position do City need to strengthen in most?
Despite possessing an attack to rival most fantasy football teams, they do still have areas in which they can improve.
Left-back was an area without real consistency last season. The centre of midfield looks decidedly lightweight after the release of Owen Hargreaves and the end of David Pizarro's loan spell.
Should Stefan Savic's first rather lame and laughable attempt at being a Premier League standard footballer not dramatically improve, City will also require further reinforcements at the back.
Importantly, they have the scouting network, the financial backing and all the attractions of a major player on the European scene: Champions League football, a high-profile city and a big local rivalry to enjoy.
Players won't take an awful lot of convincing to join Manchester City, and haven't since the days of Robinho.
The players have a good camaraderie on the field—while there is also plenty of pressure on the training ground with quality players abound—to make sure they perform at the weekend.
Mental blocks—the old hard-luck stories of Manchester City from days gone by—are, or should be, a thing of the past after several late point-saving performances last term.
Not to mention, of course, the last-gasp title-clinching win when defeat, let alone even a draw, looked to be a certainty just minutes from the end.
Rivalries and challengers for the title will come in the shape of Arsenal and Manchester United, who are familiar foes at the top of the table by now, but City will face other difficult obstacles to overcome this season.
As the reigning champions, they have by default become the "big scalp" for the smaller sides to take—the team that defensive sides will sit back against and taunt, "break us down, then."
Craft and patience, just as much as skill and strength, will be required to complete a Premier League back-to-back double.
Toure, Silva, Aguero and de Jong. These are proven winners, and they will not rest on their laurels as they bid to continue City's winning streak.
Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and several others do not have glittering CV's yet, but have the professionalism, dedication and true ability to ensure that they soon fill up any blank white space with silverware at the Etihad.
City have the squad, they have the funds to improve it and they have the coaching structure to insist and ensure there will be no slacking off, now that an initial taste of success has been gained.
Who will win the 2012-13 Premier League?
It won't all be straightforward. Poor spells of league form, the dilemma over whether to rest players for midweek European games or weekend Premiership matches and injuries or suspensions will all hit City at different stages of the season.
Further squad improvements are also necessary to fend off the ever-present challenge of Manchester United, who will certainly look to strengthen themselves.
But it is City who for once, finally, have the upper hand—and they won't let that go easily.
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