Manchester City season preview, picks, predictions: Pep Guardiola’s men Premier League favorites once again



Manchester City, the Premier League’s perennial title favorites, are ready to assume that role once again this season and have only bolstered their credentials as England’s most insurmountable team after winning the once-elusive treble last season.

Pep Guardiola’s team will have another go at earning silverware with most of the players who were present for last season’s showing, including Erling Haaland. The forward’s first season with the club was nothing short of stupendous with 36 league goals, which makes him emblematic of City’s whole vibe these days — it doesn’t hurt to ask if they can repeat last year’s success, but it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they do not.

The same is likely true for the 32-year-old Kevin de Bruyne despite his age, as well as fellow midfielder Rodri and winger Jack Grealish, all of whom proved to be crucial en route to the treble. The 2023-24 season is not poised to be a mirror image of the previous campaign, in part because City probably prefer not to be eight points behind first place, like they were in early April before Arsenal relinquished the title. The main reason, though? There have been some notable comings and goings in Manchester that tease a little bit of a new look for City.

To solidify the team’s spine, City signed Croatia teammates in center back Josko Gvardiol and midfielder Mateo Kovacic, and both are expected to play a sizable role this season. Both players also come with the opportunity to decrease the team’s average age, and rejuvenating the team could be a theme for Guardiola this season — 18-year-old fullback Rico Lewis is expected to continue his rise up the ranks and earn more minutes after he played 14 league games during the 2022-23 campaign.

Keeping with that trend, City veterans Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez are the two notable exits. The 32-year-old Gundogan left for Barcelona on a free transfer while Mahrez, also 32, joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli this summer. The reigning champions are not ready to do away with all of their mainstays, though — City are reportedly close to signing a new deal with Kyle Walker despite the fact that he reached an agreement with Bayern Munich last month, and they aim to keep Bernardo Silva around despite interest from elsewhere, including Barcelona and PSG. 

Everything seems to be coming up City yet again, but if one thing might trip them up, it could be the calendar. Guardiola described fixture congestion as one of his biggest hurdles this season, which will see City play in three domestic competitions, the Champions League and December’s Club World Cup.

“Every year it’s getting worse and worse, and it will be getting worse, and I don’t know how it’s going to end, honestly,” Guardiola said, per ESPN. “The problem is [mental]. They are exhausted. Look already how many are injured in the preseason … but it is what it is. We have to adapt and adjust, but it’s not normal.”

A full-fledged repeat of last season’s treble may not be in the cards if the schedule has anything to say about it, but City still seem poised to win at least one of the many trophies they will compete for this season. The big question — which ones will they add to the stacked trophy cabinet, and which ones do they need to feel like this season is a success?

There are arguments that City can survive without certain titles this season if they win others, especially as it pertains to the domestic cups. Winning one of either the Premier League or the Champions League — if not both — will likely ensure that this season is, at the very least, an average one for the serial winners.

Manchester City predictions





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