Biggest Hurdles for Manchester City to Repeat Its EPL Triumph
Manchester City will have some big hurdles to navigate while trying to retain the EPL title this season.
The Citizens will have to contend with revamped opposition, possible problems within their own squad and a long season in their quest for a title repeat.
City has only brought in Jack Rodwell to the side, and while the English youngster has plenty potential and should add to the depth, he does not bring any championship experience, nor is he currently better than any City player in his position.
With the talent already at the club's disposal, that may not be a problem though. The club won its first game against Southampton in dramatic fashion, almost in a similar manner to their last-gasp victory over QPR last season in fact.
Here are the biggest hurdles for Manchester City this season.
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Only one day into the EPL, and Manchester City is already missing a key player. Sergio Aguero was injured in the first half against Southampton and looks to be out for around a month.
City should not have a problem coping, especially considering the performances of some players during the remainder of the game and the talent within the squad, but this is just the first injury of possibly many.
Roberto Mancini will have to be more careful with his players this season if he wants his best players available for the major games.
Nobody can predict an injury, and it usually isn't anyone's fault that they occur, but should City have a number of injuries at any one point during the season, it will be interesting to see how the squad reacts.
Keeping Squad Harmony Intact
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Speaking of how the squad reacts, Roberto Mancini will have to ensure he can keep players happy during the season. This will be especially important if the team goes through a bad patch of games.
They are all professionals, but there are a number of characters in the squad, and at any one moment, one player could derail the team with his antics.
Carlos Tevez may be fine now, but who knows how he will feel on the homesickness front during December? Mario Balotelli showed some maturity during Euro 2012, and both his teammates and fans will be hoping that continues for the club. At the moment, all they can do is hope.
That is not to mention two players, maybe three if Adam Johnson decides he is not fine sitting on the bench, who may want to leave come January.
Nigel De Jong said he was willing to stay and see out his contract, but it is doubtful that a player who played in the World Cup final two years ago will be happy with a handful of appearances.
Edin Dzeko always seem to get playing time, but after being the transfer target of clubs like Bayern Munich and AC Milan this summer, he may think he needs to move on to play consistently.
Issues could be less likely to arise if those players are rotated in to the lineup well, but nothing is a certainty. Roberto Mancini will have his hands full keeping this group of players happy.
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City has already beaten Chelsea in a semi-competitive environment, but the London side looked solid in the win against Wigan. With all the new signings in the club, it may take a little time for everything to fully click
Folks may scoff at Manchester United's loss to Everton, not that they should considering what Everton is capable of, but you can never, ever count out a team with so much championship experience and quality.
The Long Season and Other Competitions
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Yaya Toure said, via Goal.com, that Manchester City must win the Champions League to gain more respect. He is definitely right.
Along with having to navigate what is certain to be an intense Premier League campaign, City must navigate the Champions League and the FA Cup. We'll leave the Carling Cup out of the equation, as it isn't a trophy the big boys consider a priority.
City encountered a very tough group last season with Bayern Munich, VIllarreal and Napoli, but one would have thought the club's quality players would have gotten them at least second place behind the German club.
That was not the case, and City went out. The club entered the Europa League in the knockout stages and had its European campaign ended at the hands of Sporting Lisbon in the Round of 16.
Should Manchester City make a long run in the Champions League, it may have a negative effect on the team's Premier League play. They will certainly be more invested in a Champions League second-round tie and any other round moving forward than they were in the Europa League ties.
City will have to find balance with that, and if they are still in the FA Cup, the club could possibly have three trophies to chase late on. That is a challenge they did not face last season, as they were out of Europe and the FA Cup by March.
Being No. 1
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With their win last year, Manchester City went from being the hunter to being the hunted. Every team will make it their business to give City its toughest games during the season and make it difficult for them to repeat.
Manchester United have to deal with that on a yearly basis, even when they don't win trophies, and now their rivals will have to show they can overcome the intense opposition as well.
Some of the players at the club have had similar experiences on either an international or club level, but this is the first time within this squad.
Southampton showed they were not afraid of the new Champions and, at the very least, could have walked out of the Etihad stadium with one point. There will likely be many more games like that for City this season.
If the squad can show the championship mettle they did to come from behind and secure a victory against Southampton, the season may turn out positively.
City will have to prove itself time and time again this season and will certainly find it much tougher than last year.