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Manchester City

How Manchester City will line up in 2018-19

12:00 BST 07/08/2018
Pep Guardiola has not had much time to work with his squad over the summer but they all know what the Catalan wants and will be ready to show it

Manchester City have had to contend with a disrupted pre-season but all evidence suggests they are ready for another impressive campaign.

City sent 16 players to the World Cup and only Tottenham provided more participants for the semi-finals, meaning most first-team players have only just returned to training.

But, crucially, all of those players know exactly what Pep Guardiola wants of them, and once they get up to scratch physically there should be no reason why they cannot put in the types of performances that led them to the title last season.

Guardiola has cautioned that his side will most probably not break the kind of records they did in 2017-18, but there is every chance they will light up the Premier League yet again.


Ederson enjoyed a superb debut season in English football and will be the main man in goal yet again in the coming campaign. After making the Brazil squad for the World Cup he has not yet made an appearance for City in pre-season, despite being on the bench for the Community Shield at Wembley, but is almost certain to start against Arsenal on Sunday, and in every Premier League and Champions League match beyond that, fitness permitting.

Claudio Bravo helped City win the Carabao Cup last season and he will be back-up again, although City's chances of success in the major competitions could be hampered if Ederson is ruled out for a long period of time.


In a traditional sense City will be unchanged at the back heading into next season, having decided not to bring in any new defenders during the summer.

But the return of Benjamin Mendy from injury is sure to shake up how the Blues play this season. It's fair to say City coped with his absence last time out, with Fabian Delph deputising superbly as a left-back/central-midfielder hybrid, but Mendy's pace, directness and dangerous crosses will add a fresh dynamic to their game now he is approaching full fitness again.

The other theme about the defence this season is that Guardiola will have plenty of options; it would be no surprise if Delph comes in for Mendy for certain games, while at centre-back City have four players who all bring something new to the table.

Aymeric Laporte, who signed in January, is the only one not to have gone to the World Cup and he looks as if he is slotting into the side nicely.


The one potential problem area in the City team heading into next season is in midfield, specifically at the back of it. They had hoped to sign Jorginho but are now racing around to find a last-minute alternative.

If none can be found then Guardiola will have to come up with ways to deputise for Fernandinho, should the Brazilian get injured, banned or suffer a loss of form. The Catalan has mentioned several options - Ilkay Gundogan, Fabian Delph, Douglas Luiz and even John Stones - but does not appear fully convinced that any would be able to fill in for any long period of time.

The quality and understanding elsewhere in City's squad should mean that they will be fine to mount a serious defence of their title even if they do not manage to bring somebody in before Thursday's deadline.

Further forward City are still blessed with talent; Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva will be expected to deliver the goods again but this time they will have quality competition in the shape of Ilkay Gundogan (who should be fully fit at last) and also Bernardo Silva (who should get more time in midfield now Riyad Mahrez can deputise up front) and Phil Foden (who looked impressive against Chelsea on Sunday).

There is surely enough flexibility and quality here to avoid serious issues, barring the worst injury crisis.


City only wanted two new players this summer, and while they ultimately failed to bring in Jorginho they were successful in getting the other; Mahrez. Guardiola says the Algerian can play on the left, right and through the middle, so his quality and versatility should boost City's chances on all fronts.

Elsewhere they will surely benefit from improved performances from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, two young players who had fine campaigns last season and should continue learning under Guardiola.

In the middle Gabriel Jesus will be hoping for an injury-free season so he can show what he can do over a prolonged period of matches, while Sergio Aguero will continue fighting to keep the young Brazilian on the sidelines. The Argentine has continued to improve during Guardiola's time at City and were it not for injuries in the final months of last season he surely would have had his most impressive season to date.

Quite simply there are goals wherever you look.


Guardiola has set his sights on retaining the Premier League title, and becoming the first team in a decade to do so. 

He has stressed that the consistency that is required to win the league will boost his side's chances of success in other competitions, and thanks to his time with Barcelona and Bayern Munich he has vast experience of keeping a winning team at the top.

The Catalan was disappointed not to get Jorginho, his top midfield target, and he has not been able to work on new tactical concepts with his first-team players over the summer, but he has already done the hard work in terms of instiling his principles and any further alterations can be worked upon as the season progresses.

Having signed a new contract at the end of last season, it is clear that Guardiola is fully focused on leading City to glory in the years to come. All in all there is very little to suggest that City cannot keep improving under his command.

How Man City could line up

The idea of a strongest Manchester City XI is frankly laughable these days, given the options they have available to them, in terms of the quality of their players and their understanding of Guardiola's demands.

Will they use Mendy to provide width down the left or will they use Delph to bulk up the midfield? And if Mendy plays then how will that impact Sane on the wing? Will they need Aguero's killer instincts up front or will they use Jesus' pressing? Will it be Sterling or Mahrez on the right? Does Fernandinho need a rest and if so who will fill in? Will John Stones be better to help break the opposition down, or is Vincent Kompany's experience needed? Will Nicolas Otamendi partner him or will it be Laporte?

These are the questions Guardiola will contend with in the coming months, and predicting his line-ups will be harder than ever. But in the interests of fun, here is an XI you would expect to do some damage.