English Premier League action is coming back on 8th August and ahead of the season we takae a look at where do the Runners up form the last season stand? Manchester City won the Premier League in 2013-14 season and finished 8 points behind champions Chelsea last season. They scored 83 goals last season, 10 more than Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side but Manuel Pellegrini could never give the Blues a proper title challenge. The Arab owners will be hoping that, their spending will be fruitful this season and they can clinch the Premier League title.

Transfer so far:

Manchester City have been released from Financial Fair Play restrictions this season and have enjoyed the occasion with a busy trasnfer window. We may see few more major arrivals at Etihad this season with almost a month remaining in the transfer window.

The biggest signing for the Citizens is Raheem Sterling whom they signed from Liverpool for £49 million which makes him the most expensive English player ever.

Another big signing is Fabian Delph form Aston Villa.

Here are all the transfer dealings so far by the Sky Blues.

In

Raheem Sterling – Liverpool, £49m

Patrick Roberts – Fulham, £12m

Fabian Delph – Aston Villa, £8m

Enes Unal – Bursaspor, £2m

David Faupala – Lens, Free

Out

James Milner – Liverpool, Free

Scott Sinclair – Aston Villa, Undisclosed

Micah Richards – Aston Villa, Free

Stevan Jovetic- Inter Milan, Loan

Enes Unal- Genk, Loan

Dedryck Boyata – Celtic, Undisclosed

Seko Fofana – Bastia, Loan

Angelino – New York City FC, Loan

Jordy Hiwula – Huddersfield Town, Undisclosed

Pre-season form-

Manchester City have had an indifferent pre-season. It started well with two back to back victories against Australian sides Adelaide United and Melbourne City. The score lines were 0-2 and 0-1 in favour of the visitors Manchester City. Then they tied 2-2 with AS Roma and won the match later on penalties. 3 days later, they were destroyed 4-1 by Spanish giants Real Madrid. They came back to winning ways 4 days later with an emphatic 8-1 win over Vietnam. But they were again brought back to earth by VFB Stuttgart on 1st August as the German side who just escaped relegation last season, as they defeated the Etihad side 4-2.

The worrying sign for Manuel Pellegrini will be that they failed to defeat any European side in their pre-season. The only win against a European side was against Roma which was on penalties. So technically that match was a draw. But there is a positive sign as well, as new boy Raheem Sterling has already shown signs of his potential, already scoring goals and providing assists.

Predicted tactics-

Manuel Pellegrini prefers a 4-2-3-1 set up and we expect Manchester City to line up is 4-2-3-1 this season also. Manchester City have let Stevan Jovetic go on loan to Inter and Edin Dzeko’s permanent move to AS Roma is also imminent. That will leave Wilfred Bony as the only established striker option after Sergio Aguero and 4-2-3-1 formation is most likely to be followed this season also.

Joe Hart will be the first choice goalkeeper with a preferred back four of Zabaleta, Kompany,Demichelis and Kolarov. Sagna, Mangala, Denayer and Clichy will be contesting for a starting spot with them.

City’s central midfielers are currently Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Fernando and Delph. The Ivorian midfield general Yaya Toure will be an automatic choice for the Chilean boss. The selection of the other midfield position will be contested by Fernandinho, Fernando and Delph. Fernandinho has the chance to be selected in most matches but Fernando gives the team more defensive shape and he may be preferred for big matches. Delph will mostly be a squad player just like James Milner did.

In the attacking third, David Siva is an automatic choice at the central position. Sterling may be preferred ahead of Nasri on the left flank and the right wide position will be rotated between Navas and Nasri.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner, Sergio Aguero will lead the line with Bony as his back up.

The line up will be like this-

The 4-2-3-1 does not have a proper regista to support its defence and this may lead Pellegrini to change his tactics. Manchester City do not have a good defensive record and 4-3-3 with a defensive midfielder may be beneficial for the team. Fernando will play the regista role with Toure and Fernandinho as box to box midfieders. The front three will be consisting of Silva and Sterling with Aguero up front. The back line will be unchanged.

Here is the line up:

Key Players-

Sergio Aguero- The Golden Boot winner from last season will have to play a major role for the side if they want to mount a title challenge. Aguero not only has to continue scoring goals but also has to improve his fitness.

David Silva- One of the best playmakers in the world, Silva has the same issue like his teammate Aguero. The fitness of the duo will be a defining factor for City in order to contend for the title.

Players to watch out for:

Raheem Sterling- The most expensive English player ever, will be a player to watch out for this season. The European Golden Boy has already started to impress in pre-season and will be looking to do the same after his controversial move from Liverpool.

Yaya Toure- The Ivorian midfielder did not have the best last season at Etihad and will be looking to show his true colors this season.

Manchester City’s major problem was not with scoring goals but the defense. No major defensive reinforcement is made and two big strikers will also not be a part this season. City may find it hard attackingly also this season if Aguero become unavailable due to injuries at some point of time. With no defensive improvement, they should not hope for the top spot this season.

Prediction (4th place): On paper, they are much behind Chelsea, Arsenal and their city rivals Manchester United as all the other teams have a better squad balance. A fourth spot is the realistic finish for the current team. A title challenge from the Citizens is unlikely this season, unless they improve defensively and that too quickly.