Manchester City: Does Manuel Pellegrini Have Premier League's Best Strike Force?
Manchester City have spent close to £100 million again this summer on just four players, with two of those brought in to replenish a strike force which had been cut in half since this time last year.
Having sold Mario Balotelli to AC Milan in January and Carlos Tevez to Juventus this summer, new City boss Manuel Pellegrini soon forked out around £45 million for the signatures of Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic.
Those two are now added to City's remaining squad members in attack, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, to give the Etihad Stadium club arguably the most talented quartet of forwards in the Premier League.
Mix of qualities
Part of the appeal of City's foursome is their range of qualities and attributes.
With Jovetic, City have signed a forward who can play off a main striker, pick up possession in deep areas and really look to link play in the final third. He knows where the net is himself too, having scored 27 league goals in the past two seasons at Fiorentina.
Negredo, the former Sevilla striker, is much more of a pure No. 9.
He'll operate largely within the penalty box in terms of his movement, but he certainly isn't afraid to try his luck from range. Negredo will utilise his movement and his ability to work the channels to get into goalscoring positions, and will expect the players behind him to provide plenty of ammunition for him.
Aguero brings a little bit of everything. Low to the ground and powerful, he's capable of beating defenders in a one-on-one situation, can play as an out-and-out striker or a second forward, or can drift wide to be more involved in the link-up play.
The Argentine is a special forward, and should really be looking to start the majority of games—though his range of skills means he might not have a set role in the team, he can instead be deployed according to whoever else is selected, to help get the best out of them.
Dzeko is a fine finisher, brings more strength to the front line than the other three and, like Negredo, is good in the air.
All in all, Pellegrini is going to be able to pick any two from his four and be certain that they can provide the chances for each other and have the ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
And, if they don't, he has the depth to change them.
Considering the amounts spent on them, new signings Negredo and Jovetic might be expected to start, but this is Manchester City. £20 million isn't exactly breaking new ground for them by now.
Aguero should be a dead certainty to play any given game, and his versatility within the forward line means he'll start a majority, but it could be playing deeper off Negredo one game and then ahead of Jovetic the next.
Playing the two new signings together is of course also more than plausible, with the Montenegrin forward operating deeper than the Spaniard seeming the most likely cause of action.
He has a good strike rate when he gets to play and he'll hope for more of a key role this year, but for now, it seems as though Dzeko might initially be the odd man out.
Who can compete
If Chelsea go on and sign Wayne Rooney as has been rumoured, as per Metro, then they could lay claim to being up there. Rooney, Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba all have goals in them, but as a top-quality quartet it's not up there with the City offering.
Certainly not in terms of looking at last season's performances from all involved.
Do City have the best strike force in the Premier League?
Manchester United, right now, have four forwards too, with Rooney being one. He and Robin van Persie are two accomplished, excellent forwards, with Javier Hernandez being a source of goals over the past couple of seasons too.
The fourth, Danny Welbeck, has yet to entirely convince or even to win a regular role as a forward, instead operating often from the flanks.
Arsenal might classify Theo Walcott as a striker, even though he's a regular on the flank, but right now after Olivier Giroud, they're still looking at Park Chu-Young, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner as squad options to be replaced.
Liverpool have two great forwards but certainly not four, and Spurs only have two to number in their squad at present as they await further reinforcements.
For quality, and most certainly for depth, City certainly have the best strike force in the Premier League.
Pellegrini will be hoping that gives them one huge advantage already heading into the new season.
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