5 Early Signs That Manchester City Are Actually Better Than Last Year

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

5 Early Signs That Manchester City Are Actually Better Than Last Year

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    While winning a maiden Premier League title will not have been considered anything but remarkable, nobody within the Manchester City fraternity will be looking to do anything but improve in the current campaign.

    The Citizens have been on a meteoric rise since the Abu Dhabi takeover of 2008 and don’t appear likely to stop that ascent anytime soon.

    Despite the achievements so far, 2012-13 is an opportunity for the Premier League champions to defend their current titles, as well as add to what is surely a growing collection.

    Although that may sound like an incredibly difficult feat, Roberto Mancini’s side are already showing the signals that would tell us they are capable of pulling off just that.

Summer Signings Settling in

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    In the last four years, Manchester City’s expenditure total has gone up summer by summer, year by year, building a totally fearsome squad as a result.

    The summer transfer window of 2012 was no differen,t and although it took the Premier League champions a while to go about their business, the wallet was once again flexed in major fashion at the Etihad Stadium.

    In the last two days of August 2012, City spent a huge total of around £40 million on top of the £12 million signature of Jack Rodwell that was completed earlier in the summer.

    While most are yet to spend barely a month in their new surroundings, the likes of Javi Garcia, Matija Nastasić and Rodwell appear to be moulding comfortably into the English giants’ setup.

    So far, Scott Sinclair, Richard Wright and Maicon are yet to have much of an influence on City matters, but will undoubtedly get their share of chances in the coming weeks and months.

    Garcia netted a debut goal to dim down any worries that his £17 million price-tag may have been overvalued, while Rodwell hasn’t seemed out of his depth, despite the jump in standards since coming from Goodison Park.

    Whenever a club spends big, there’s always the vultures circling to condemn the team’s exuberant expenditure. It’s fair to say that City have brought in a certain amount of flops in the last five years or so, but critics may need to hold off on their condemnation this time around.

Surviving Through Injuries

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    Injuries are a common by-product of any contact sport, and in no league is the occurrence more frequent, perhaps, than in the English top flight.

    One of the true signs of a good team is how that outfit copes with these absences that, if happen to poignant enough members of the team, can derail one’s whole campaign.

    Already this season, Roberto Mancini has had to deal with losing his top scorer from last season, Sergio Aguero.

    While one could argue that the Citizens would have earned even better results with their Argentine asset, it speaks volumes that City are able to bring the likes of Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko into the side.

    It’s a given that this selection is courtesy of the spending policy that has developed at the club in recent years, but their squad is as strong as ever and has only improved since last season.

    The likes of Samir Nasri, Micah Richards and others have also spent time on the sidelines this season, but the club are coping excellently without them, making their impact all the more meaningful when they return.

Beginning with Silverware

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    The best way any club can hope to begin a new season is by winning a trophy in the first match of the campaign—something Manchester City did this season.

    Mancini’s victory in the Community Shield can be looked as a direct comparison to the 2011-12 loss to Manchester United in the same competition.

    Also, if you’re going to beat anyone to claim the title, you might as well go to a team currently looked at as one of the world’s best sides—another accomplishment City pulled off by beating Chelsea, the Champions League title holders.

    It may not be  viewed as the most prestigious piece of silverware in the calendar year, but any Manchester City star will tell you how pleased they will have been to start their season off in the best possible way, doing what they weren’t able to do last time around.

Unbeaten Streak

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    It goes without saying that a win is all any manager heads into a game looking to acquire, and three points is what any squad will do their best to acquire (match-fixing scandals aside).

    However, it isn’t always possible to come out with 100 percent of the points 100 percent of the time, and draws are a common component of a title-winning campaign, even if not the most glamorous route.

    Manchester City have picked up draws against Liverpool, Arsenal and Stoke City already this season, and while many Citizens will be disappointed not to have come out of those fixtures in the best way possible, an unbeaten streak is still something to be proud of.

    Mancini’s men have now gone 11 games unbeaten in Premier League competition, and are looking typically dominant when playing in front of a home crowd.

    Although last season saw the club enjoy a tremendous unbeaten run in the first half of the season, the team may yet go on to mimic the Serie A dominance of Juventus and go another few dozen without seeing a loss.

Performing Against the Big Guns

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    While the season is still young, Manchester City have already played nearly half a dozen games against clubs that are seen as considerable heavyweights on the world stage.

    As has already been mentioned, a Community Shield win over Chelsea has shown audiences that City can cope with Europe’s elite, but there are other fixtures to back up those kinds of claims too.

    Despite their apparent lack of ability to succeed in the “smaller” matches, Liverpool is still a hard team to combat, especially at Anfield. The Premier League champions managed to show a high resolve to earn a point on Merseyside.

    Arsenal have shown their talent despite the loss of Robin van Persie this season and appear to be in good form. While many would consider the point taken from their game against the Gunners as a failure, the result really isn’t anything to be sniffed at.

    But perhaps, the most impressive of City’s clinch fixtures so far this season was the Champions League opener against Real Madrid.

    Although they may have lost the match at the Santiago Bernabeu, Manchester City did brilliantly to go ahead twice, and visiting supporters could walk away from the Spanish capital with their heads held high.

    Of course, every fixture is as important as one other, and you can’t base a season on matches played against more respectable sides, but the club’s ability to pull off results against Europe’s big guns is nothing if not encouraging.