Soccer BPL Preview: Man City once again looks to defend

Ken Rodney,
8/16/2014 1:33:18 AM
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The new Barclays Premier League season gets underway on Saturday and prior to the first kick, presents a week long look at some of the teams and stories that will shape the up coming campaign. Today we look at the defending champs and what is on tap for the team that can once again call itself the best team in Manchester.

Manchester City

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Last Season: 27-5-6 (Premier League Champions)

Notable Additions: Fernando (Porto), Willy Caballero (Malaga), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (New York City FC on loan), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto).

Notable Subtractions: Jack Rodwell (Sunderland), Gareth Barry (Everton), Javi Garcia (Zenit St. Petersburg), Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland), Joleon Lescott (West Bromwich Albion)

That was Then: On the final day of the 2013-14 season, in much less dramatic fashion than the title they captured two years ago, Manchester City secured the Premier League title with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United.

While the final day of the season lacked the same drama, the campaign that built to the ending had nothing but twists and turns right up to the end.

In the first half of the season, Manchester City suffered incredibly poor road form dropping games at Cardiff City and Aston Villa as well as points at Stoke City before finally earning their first away win at West Ham.

At Etihad Stadium they were telling a completely different story, earning emphatic victories over Manchester United (4-1), Norwich City (7-0) and Tottenham (6-0), all before the calendar had reached December.

City defeated title contenders Liverpool and Arsenal at home and headed into the new year locked in a tight battle at the top of the table.

The fight seemed lost after a late season, emotional 3-2 defeat at Anfield, which handed the title initiative to Liverpool as the run in kicked into high gear.

However the Reds would suffer a defeat to Chelsea and surrender a three goal lead to settle for a 3-3 draw to Crystal Palace.

Those results would open the door for Manchester City to celebrate their franchise's fourth top flight English Football title and second in the Premier League era.

The BPL title was actually City's second trophy of the season as they were also successful in the League Cup, thanks to a 3-1, come-from-behind victory over Sunderland.

They fell behind after 10 minutes in the Wembley final, before midfielders Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri scored within 60 seconds of each other to turn the game and bring the hardware back to Manchester.

While they advanced as far as they ever have in their third tour of the Champions League, playing beyond the group stage for the first time in franchise history, it would still have to be considered a disappointment that City were eliminated in the first knockout stage round against Barcelona.

This is Now: Before things really got rolling for Manchester City in the off-season, UEFA slapped them with a fine and roster restrictions for violating the Financial Fair Play rules, putting a cap on the amount of money they could spend in the transfer window as well as they amount of players they are able to field in the next Champions League competition.

Even with the sanctions and in opposition of what they did after their last title, City still managed to strength their squad while unloading a few players that have become superfluous along the way.

First choice and England number one keeper Joe Hart struggled at times last season even briefly losing his place in the net, in response, Willy Caballero has been brought in to either battle for that position or provide a strong backup keeper incase needed.

Fernando and veteran Frank Lampard (for half the season) will provide depth at the central midfield position which while being a position of strength for the team is probably the most important place on the park not to falter.

Bacary Sagna made the move from Arsenal and will make the team even stronger at the back, fighting for starting time with one of last season's standout players Pablo Zabaleta. The team also scrounged up 32 million pounds for French defender Eliaquim Mangala from Porto.

While not being able to spend money to bring in players, City has used this offseason to lock up the core of the team to long term extensions.

David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero all inked long term deals to stay with the English champions and form the core of what they hope will be a strong contender in Europe for many years to come.

While they will hope to once again find success in the league, FA Cup and League Cup, it will be the Champions League that will determine if this team has made major strides toward the goal of being a globally powerful franchise.

Burning Question: This is the year that Manchester City finally has their European breakthrough and finds success in the Champions League?


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