Blue Moon Rising – Are Manchester City already the team to beat?

It is fair to say that Manchester City never looked like defending their Premier League crown last season as Chelsea stormed their way to the title, but it appears that the blue moon is rising again. Five consecutive wins, including an emphatic 3-0 victory at the Etihad against the reigning champions, have seen Manuel Pellegrini’s team start their campaign in supreme form, with five clean sheets and eleven goals scored showing their quality at both ends of the pitch.

Their most recent trip to Crystal Palace was the first real game in which Manchester City were asked serious questions of their credential, but young star Kelechi Iheanacho’s injury-time winner provided another indication that the 2013/2014 title winners really do mean business this season. Although have highlighted that their Champions League odds have increased to 16/1 following the potentially damaging 2-1 home defeat to Juventus, Pellegrini’s men remain strong favourites to win the Premier League title. Based on the superb start they have made, it is easy to see why.


Star players making their mark

One of a number of criticisms that were levelled at Manchester City last season was the struggles endured by many of their star players who simply did not produce the quality that many, and perhaps themselves, expect. Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure were two players in particular who were singled out for not contributing to the cause, while David Silva was also not at his creative best. A number of uncharacteristic errors and performances epitomised Manchester City’s season as they struggled to impose themselves as defending champions, but if their first five Premier League showings are anything to go by, then they are certainly making amends for their shortcomings.

Sergio Aguero, who was the only player to come away from last season with his head held high as the Premier League’s top goalscorer, has been in superb form once again, while Kompany and Toure appear to have turned back the clock with a number of stellar performances that have been integral to Manchester City’s start to the campaign. Every aspect of their game appears to be fully in tune, with the quality of defensive and attacking play allowing them to sweep those that have came before them in the Premier League aside with relative ease. Pellegrini’s side already hold a four point lead at the summit – not to mention an incredible eleven point gap between themselves and Chelsea – and if they continue to perform in the same manner, then it will be hard to see anyone stopping them.


Extra dimensions

Many would not be surprised to hear that Manchester City were the biggest spenders during the summer transfer window in which Premier League clubs spent an accumulative total of just under £860 million, but what they have invested in is additional dimensions that has already paid dividends. £49 million acquisition Raheem Sterling has already shown in the early stages of the season that he will bring considerable pace and a direct approach to Manchester City’s play – aspects that they were arguably lacking last season. Once the former Liverpool man improves his finishing ability, then his price tag, which has been labelled as excessive and over the top, could turn out to be a bargain. Fellow big-money signing Kevin De Bruyne, who once played for Chelsea before moving to Wolfsburg where he demonstrated his huge potential, is another that could enhance the creative qualities in Manchester City’s midfield; although the young Belgian has yet to feature prominently thanks to the superb early season form of Silva, he offers many qualities that other Premier League rivals would love to have.


Upcoming fixtures

Flattering to deceive in the Champions League once again may be a mere blip in what has been an almost perfect start to the season for Manchester City, but defeat at the hands of Juventus could provide a real examination of their ability to bounce back from disappointment. They will certainly receive that in the upcoming league fixture against a West Ham side who have not only impressed under Slaven Bilic during the early weeks of the season, but also proved at Arsenal and Liverpool that they are able to beat the big teams in their own back yard. A potentially tough trip to Tottenham follows next weekend, although subsequent home fixtures against Newcastle and Bournemouth represent great opportunities to bounce back if they do come unstuck at White Hart Lane.

Manchester City have certainly impressed in the opening weeks of the season, but with the spotlight now firmly on them as Premier League title favourites with, it will be interesting to see if they maintain their superb start in the next few games.

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