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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Manchester City

Pep Guardiola Press Conference

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola poses for photographs outside the Etihad Stadium on July 8, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Barrington Coombs/Getty Images)

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Pep time has arrived.

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Guardiola is deemed to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Sheikh Mansour’s grand project at Manchester City. Regarded as the best coach in the world, Guardiola has succeeded at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning 21 trophies over seven seasons as a manager.

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The legendary Spanish coach will lock horns with Jose Mourinho in Manchester as their mouth-watering rivalry continues. Guardiola will have to adapt to English soccer but he’s already been given big money to spend this summer and his new-look City side is starting to gel. His main aim will be to succeed in Europe but he will also be tasked with bringing another PL title to the Etihad. Basically, City has to play in a stylish way and win every single trophy out there. No pressure, Pep...

With Leroy Sane arriving and John Stones reportedly on the way, City will have a much younger feel to their team this season and Guardiola has already singled out individuals in preseason for not being fit enough as well as banning pizza and having everyone on a strict diet. He’s not messing around and his strict rules aren’t for everyone but it certainly gets results.

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City will sweep all before them and win the title at a canter because... This is Guardiola and City will spend whatever to make sure he’s a success. They may not clean up this season but over the next few years Guardiola has the chance to build a dynasty at the Etihad. He’s a tremendous coach with a superb record of making young players better.

Actually, City will just struggle to finish in top four: It could take Guardiola some time to get used to the pace and power of the PL week in, week out. This will be a new challenge for him so let’s see how quickly the players take to his methods. This may be more difficult than most people think.

Best Possible XI
----- Hart -----

--- Sagna --- Kompany --- Stones (?) --- Clichy ---

----- Fernandinho --- Gundogan ------

--- Sane --- Silva --- De Bruyne ---

----- Aguero -----

Transfers in: Leroy Sane ($49 million, Schalke 04), Nolito ($18.4 million, Celta Vigo), Ilkay Gundogan ($26.7 million, Borussia Dortmund), Aaron Mooy (Free, Melbourne City FC), Oleksandr Zinchenko ($2.2 million, FC Ufa)

Transfers out: Martin Demichelis, Richard Wright (Both released)

Last season: City faded badly and finished in fourth place last season, just securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League playof round ahead of Manchester United. Manuel Pellegrini announced he was leaving in January and Guardiola’s appointment was also announced to add a sense of transition over the second half of the campaign. City still won the Capital One Cup and reached the UCL semifinals for the first-time in their history (losing to eventual winners Real Madrid 1-0 on aggregate) as Pellegrini left with his head held high.

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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Star player: Sergio Aguero - He is the main jewel in City’s glittering crown. Aguero has scored 102 PL goals in 150 PL games for City since arriving in 2012. The Argentina is a predator and with Kevin de Bruyne, Sane and David Silva feeding him chances, there’s every chance he will break through the 30-goal mark in the PL. At 28, he’s entering his prime. Now, he just needs a season without injuries to smash records.

Coach’s corner: Guardiola is the man who will take City to the next level. At least, that’s the plan. He has never finished outside of the top two of each domestic season he has managed and he has never not made at least the semifinals of the UCL. He has an imperious record at both Barca and Bayern but this is his biggest challenge yet. And he knows it. Guardiola’s fluid passing system and insistence on winning the ball back within six seconds from the opposition means this City squad must be fitter than any other team in the PL. That could take a while so patient will be needed from City’s loyal, but expectant, fans.

Manchester City Pre-game Training & Press Conference

SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 27: Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola attends a press conference for 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at Shenzhen Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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PST predicts: If John Stones arrives and Guardiola can mold him into the defensive lynchpin he’s had at previous clubs then that will make a huge difference for City. Going forward they have an embarrassment of riches and should score goals for fun. Question marks around Hart in goal and the fitness issues plaguing captain Vincent Kompany are the biggest concern for City but if Guardiola can get the balance right then there’s no reason why City can’t win the title. They have the players and now the manager to dominate the PL.

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