Manchester City's 2014-15 Premier League title defence sees the Citizens open their campaign with a trip to Newcastle United, but examinations from Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea also await in their first five fixtures.
City used a late winning streak to surge past Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table. From there the Sky Blues were able to hang on to win their fourth league championship and second in the past three years.
Along with the Premier League, City also captured a trophy in the League Cup, making it a successful campaign at the Etihad Stadium. The only notable disappointment was getting knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16. The star-studded squad must look to improve on that result.
As for now, City are getting a first look at the schedule they will have to journey through in order to retain their status as Premier League champions. Let's check out a complete list of fixtures for the new campaign before taking a look ahead with some early analysis.
2014-15 Manchester City Schedule
|Manchester City Fixtures for 2014-15 Season|
|Aug 16||3 p.m. BST||Newcastle United (a)|
|Aug 23||3 p.m. BST||Liverpool (h)|
|Aug 30||3 p.m. BST||Stoke City (h)|
|Sept 13||3 p.m. BST||Arsenal (a)|
|Sept 20||3 p.m. BST||Chelsea (h)|
|Sept 27||3 p.m. BST||Hull City (a)|
|Oct 4||3 p.m. BST||Aston Villa (a)|
|Oct 18||3 p.m. BST||Tottenham Hotspur (h)|
|Oct 25||3 p.m. BST||West Ham United (a)|
|Nov 1||3 p.m. GMT||Manchester United (h)|
|Nov 8||3 p.m. GMT||Queens Park Rangers (a)|
|Nov 22||3 p.m. GMT||Swansea City (h)|
|Nov 29||3 p.m. GMT||Southampton (a)|
|Dec 3||7:45 p.m. GMT||Sunderland (a)|
|Dec 6||3 p.m. GMT||Everton (h)|
|Dec 13||3 p.m. GMT||Leicester City (a)|
|Dec 20||3 p.m. GMT||Crystal Palace (h)|
|Dec 26||3 p.m. GMT||West Bromwich Albion (a)|
|Dec 28||3 p.m. GMT||Burnley (h)|
|Jan 1||3 p.m. GMT||Sunderland (h)|
|Jan 10||3 p.m. GMT||Everton (a)|
|Jan 17||3 p.m. GMT||Arsenal (h)|
|Jan 31||3 p.m. GMT||Chelsea (a)|
|Feb 7||3 p.m. GMT||Hull City (h)|
|Feb 11||7:45 p.m. GMT||Stoke City (a)|
|Feb 21||3 p.m. GMT||Newcastle United (h)|
|Feb 28||3 p.m. GMT||Liverpool (a)|
|March 4||7:45 p.m. GMT||Leicester City (h)|
|March 14||3 p.m. GMT||Burnley (a)|
|March 21||3 p.m. GMT||West Bromwich Albion (h)|
|April 4||3 p.m. BST||Crystal Palace (a)|
|April 11||3 p.m. BST||Manchester United (a)|
|April 18||3 p.m. BST||West Ham United (h)|
|April 25||3 p.m. BST||Aston Villa (h)|
|May 2||3 p.m. BST||Tottenham Hotspur (a)|
|May 9||3 p.m. BST||Queens Park Rangers (h)|
|May 16||3 p.m. BST||Swansea City (a)|
|May 24||3 p.m. BST||Southampton (h)|
One of the major reasons Manchester City were able to capture a pair of trophies last season is depth. When a player was forced to miss a match due to injury or somebody was going through a stretch of poor form, there was always somebody ready to slide into the lineup.
The question now is how the squad will look once the dust settles after the summer transfer window. As always, there's plenty of early buzz about potential moves both in terms of acquisitions and exits that could reshape the roster.
Signing players will be a little tougher due to sanctions put in place after a violation of Financial Fair Play regulations. BBC Sport provided further information about what the club's brass will need to keep in mind while seeking transfer deals:
Manchester City have been fined £49m, £32m of which is suspended, and can only name a 21-man Champions League squad next season after failing Uefa financial fair play rules.
Another sanction means City can only spend £49m on players this summer, as well as any transfer fees they receive.
And their wage bill for 2014-15 must stay the same as this season.
For a club like City, which often chases high-profile players in the transfer market, those punishments are going to make it tougher for them to make a major impact this summer. So trying to keep as much of last season's squad together as possible is key.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini continues to have high hopes, both in terms of staying on with the club and achieving success along the way, as illustrated in comments passed along by James Masters and Becky Anderson of CNN:
My way of thinking is that if you want to develop a club, the best way is to keep the manager for so many years if you can.
Of course, at important clubs, the results are always very important, but with patience I think you can do better.
A big club must always have ambition. We will start thinking about how we can improve, we will analyze a lot of things and will try and be a very competitive team next year in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
The combination of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Yaya Toure led an extremely potent City attack last season. Whether they will stay together for another season is up in the air with plenty of speculation surrounding Aguero and Toure in particular, per Stuart Brennan of Manchester Evening News.
Another key factor is Joe Hart. The England international had some struggles during the early portion of the campaign before re-establishing himself as the starter as the campaign wore on. He needs to find more consistency moving forward.
All told, City will enter the new campaign among the top contenders even if things don't go perfectly during the summer. If they do make a couple of notable additions without losing multiple key pieces—Toure being the main concern—they should be the title favourites.
It's probably going to become a very busy transfer window for Pellegrini and Co., especially once the World Cup comes to an end. Their success in the market will determine exactly how high expectations should be set next season.
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