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Man City 2015/16 Season Preview

August 3, 2015

| The Hype Train |

Backed by the wealth of the bottomless Qatari purse the team under the Blue Moon are looking for a year where they can challenge on all fronts, with wealth in abundance the deep pockets of the Etihad Group will be keen to see Manuel Pellegrini’s challenge for the league for the 2015/16 season as well as winning a domestic cup and make progress in the Champions League. All in all success is a priority to the whole club on every level, which underlines the biggest talking point of this preview: squad rotation. No top four club rotates their team on the level that Manchester City does, and this is focus for each FPL manager who seeks to use the rich goal scoring tendencies of the Citizens in their teams this year.

 

 

History in the Premier League

Some fans claim that Manchester City are undergoing the same ‘re-founding’ that Chelsea experienced from 2004 onwards, with large investment for the Citizens occurring in the last five seasons. Nobody can deny that they have now become an established top four team after being brought from the brink of constant relegation fear and mid-table mediocrity. 

 

Here are a few interesting facts about Manchester City that you should be aware of:

 

• This is Man City’s 19th Premier League Season.

• In the last two seasons they have finished 1st (2013/14) and 2nd (2014/15).

• Man City has won the Premier League twice, both in the last five years. The first instance in the 2011/12 season after Kun Aguero’s injury time winner, and then in 2013/14 after capitalising on Liverpool’s end of season collapse with an impressive five game winning streak without conceding.

• The Citizen’s last Football League win outside of the Premier League occurred in the 1967/68 season. This shows just how far they have come in such a short space of time (and investment). 

• They can now rival the spending of their Manchester United rivals. In the last decade they have spent just over one billion on players, most of that investment in the last five seasons.

• Their biggest threat is in form of their attack. Sergio Aguero was the Premier League’s top goal scorer after netting twenty six times in a sky blue shirt. Kun Aguero was also the only striker to score over 200 points in the season.

• Likewise Joe Hart was the winner of the 2014/15 season with 14 clean sheets to his name.

• Last season one of their players was in the top five of all categories for FPL players with exception to their defence.

o Goalkeeper – Joe Hart – 4th – 142 points (9 behind Fabianski)

o Midfielder – David Silva – 3rd – 191 points (42 behind Eden Hazard)

o Attacker – Sergio Aguero – 1st – 216 points (25 points ahead of Harry Kane)

 

Man City's 2014/15 Team

The Citizen’s team last year was once again one of the strongest in the Premier League, having retained Sergio Aguero and David Silva they had a formidable and hardworking front-line which has become the trademark stamp of the Manchester City of the last five seasons. Last term they were wholly reliant on the goals that Sergio Aguero provided, utilised as a lone striker he had support from three attackers behind him and a central midfielder, normally Yaya Toure, when they hit people on the attack.

 

Playing a predominantly possession based game the Citizens like to pen in their opposition to the edge of their box and work space, which at times can get frustrating and get nowhere, but they consistently work at creating space for Kun Aguero to pounce on the ball. This isn’t the main source of their goals, as most teams will know the last thing you want is to commit too many players against their defence only for Man City to hit you on the break. Led by Aguero they were formidable when they had numbers behind the ball on a counter attack where they could use Aguero’s pace to make any defence appear pedestrian, even the usually rock solid Southampton struggled to contain their counter-attacking threat.

 

Last season Man City played a 4-2-3-1 for the most part, which was the same as the season when they won it the year before, and what they will most likely start with on the opening day against West Brom for the upcoming season. This is Manchester City’s tried and tested formula, and this was the main team that they fielded with this formation.

 

 

Appearances, Substitutions & Rotated Players

Manchester City’s team last year can best be described as one of rotation, and rotation is the one dreaded word for all FPL managers. With such a large team, large contracts, and large egos it was the job of Manuel Pellegrini to maximise the squads overall playing time. What was most concerning for FPL managers was that David Silva was taken off as a substitute in fifteen league games in 2014/15, which is nearly half of the games he played last year. Having such a large squad to choose from is the danger of choosing Manchester City players, especially in games that are reaching the sixtieth minute mark and the team hasn’t made many chances they will drastically change their attacking options if what they currently have on the pitch isn’t working.

 

The appearances and substitutions for Man City’s interchangeable team were as follows:

 

Joe Hart – 36 League starts, 2 sub appearances

Sergio Aguero – 33 league starts, 3 sub appearances

David Silva – 32 league starts, 0 sub appearances

Pablo Zabaleta – 29 league starts, 0 sub appearances

Martin Demichelis – 28 league starts, 3 sub appearances

Yaya Toure – 27 league starts, 2 sub appearances

Fernandinho – 25 league starts, 8 sub appearances

Eliaquim Mangala – 24 league starts, 1 sub appearance

Vincent Kompany – 23 league starts, 2 sub appearances

Gael Clichy – 23 league starts, 0 sub appearances

Jesus Navas – 23 league starts, 12 sub appearances

Fernando – 22 league starts, 3 sub appearances

James Milner – 18 league starts, 14 sub appearances

Samir Nasri – 18 league starts, 6 sub appearances

Aleksandar Kolarov – 16 league starts, 5 sub appearances

Edin Dzeko – 11 league starts, 11 sub appearances

Frank Lampard – 10 league starts, 22 sub appearances

Stevan Jovetic – 9 league starts, 8 sub appearances

Bacary Sagna – 8 league starts, 1 sub appearance

Wilfried Bony – 2 league starts, 8 sub appearances

 

Based on this list of players the only three consistent players all year for starts was Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero, and David Silva; and even then they were at risk of rotation and coming off as a substitute (bar Hart when he started). For their high prices it could be said that due to the nature of how Pellegrini operates his first team squad you could argue they are overpriced as they are never guaranteed to start a game, and they carry the huge risk of coming off early. The biggest area of difficulty was the options at full-back, only Kolarov at the close of last season when Gael Clichy was injured was the only player who an FPL manager could choose a full-back without fear they wouldn’t appear on the team-sheet in the gameweek. There was heartbreak all over the country as Zabaleta would be dropped in a crucial game where he was transferred in, and the same with the two left backs. As a result they become redundant in the eyes of any smart FPL manager who couldn’t risk being disappointed that one of their most expensive defenders wouldn’t be playing.

 

Expect Manuel Pellegrini to operate using a similar system next year, Manchester City is a team where no player will ever start all thirty-eight games of the season, and they are also a team that you may find your player starting on the bench and not even playing. This has, and always be, the biggest crux to choosing Manchester City players for your FPL squads. Pellegrini does his substitutions early and normally before the sixtieth minute so that he has enough time to change the flow of the game.

 

 

Man City’s Key Men & Stats

Just imagine what their season would have looked like if Kun Aguero had been injured all year, the contributions he made for both goals and assists was the driving force of the team and their position in the Premier League last year. The current reshaping of the team and key departures of Frank Lampard and James Milner may be unpleasant reading for Manchester City supporters, further emphasising the ever constant need for Kun Aguero to be on target consistently. Having won the 2014/15 golden boot, and with the departure of key men for the upcoming season, let’s see just how crucial Aguero is their team and bear in mind he only made thirty-three appearances in the Premier League last term for Man City. 

 

Goals

Sergio Aguero: 26 goals

David Silva: 12 goals

Yaya Toure: 10 goals

Frank Lampard: 6 goals

James Milner: 5 goals

Stevan Jovetic: 5 goals
Edin Dzeko: 4 goals

Fernandinho: 3 goals

Wilfried Bony: 2 goals

Aleksander Kolarov: 2 goals

Samir Nasri: 2 goals

Fernando: 2 goals

Pablo Zabaleta: 1 goal

 

 

Assists

Sergio Aguero: 8 assists

Jesus Navas: 8 assists

David Silva: 7 assists

James Milner: 6 assists

Samir Nasri: 6 assists

Fernandinho: 4 assists

Pablo Zabaleta: 4 assists

Aleksandar Kolarov: 3 assists

Stevan Jovetic: 3 assists

Eliaquim Mangala: 2 assists

Yaya Toure: 1 assist

Wilfried Bony: 1 assist

 

Topping both goals and assists rankings it is clear that Sergio Aguero was a player in a league of his own at the Etihad Stadium last year, he could striker at any time home or away. Registering thirteen goals at home, and as many away, he was clinical on any ground he played, and why FPL managers trusted him so highly with their captaincy’s most weeks.  Most goals came through the nippy argentines quick feet, which goes to show the reliance the team has on his shoulders. If a serious injury was to strike him for next season it would be disaster for the club. Other noteworthy and surprising additions to the assists is that Yaya Toure only registered one assist (unsurprisingly to Kun Aguero) last season, and Pablo Zabaleta was nowhere near the levels for both goals and assists that you would come to expect from the right back considering his FPL price. It will also be interesting to see what happens without the hardworking ethics of James Milner in the team for next season.

 

 

Clean Sheets

Joe Hart was solid in goal for Man City last season, even capturing the 2014/15 Golden Glove award with a total of fourteen clean sheets all season. Nobody should be surprised by this reality; all of the top four clubs always have a higher chance of keeping more clean sheets than those outside Champions League places. Manchester United’s woeful defence let David De Gea down in winning the award, Arsenal dropped Wojciech Szczęsny in favour of David Ospina in the latter half of the season following the Poles breakdown, and Chelsea occasionally played Peter Cech over Thibaut Courtois which cut into the Belgium number ones clean sheet potential. Outside of that Fabianksi narrowly missed out with Swansea for the record, but his save rate was superior to that of Hart’s, and Simon Mingolet of Liverpool had a torrid first half of last season which meant it was up to the England international to pick up the award after being the only goalkeeper in the top four to do his job correctly.

 

 

The only downside to Joe Hart becoming a number one FPL option is that he doesn’t make enough saves in games as opponents rarely challenge his space. If Man City concede in games the points yield for Hart is normally low, which is why other FPL managers opted for other options such as Costal ‘Three Point’ Pantilimon to guard their clean sheets and accumulate save potentials.

 

For the upcoming season Joe Hart is still Man City’s best defensive option due to the constant rotation risk of defenders, but many will be scarce to place him in their teams until they know if there defence is capable of keeping the most routine clean sheets at home at the Etihad…something that they struggled in doing last season.

 

Disciplinary

Manchester City had a surprisingly poor disciplinary record, for a team to have so much possession they are reckless in getting it back from the opposition. For each season preview written so far none of The Hype Train team is surprised in seeing the best player options with the worst disciplinary records, and Man City follow the same beat to the drum in this regard. Here is how their disciplinary record shaped up in the season just gone.

 

Eliaquim Mangala: 1 red, 4 yellow

Pablo Zabaleta: 1 red,

David Silva: 8 yellow

Vincent Kompany: 7 yellow

Fernandinho: 7 yellow

Pablo Zabaleta: 7 yellow

James Milner: 7 yellow

Fernando: 6 yellow

Martin Demichelis: 6 yellow

Samir Nasri: 5 yellow

Yaya Toure: 5 yellow

Sergio Aguero: 4 yellow

Aleksandar Kolarov: 4 yellow

Jesus Navas: 3 yellow

 

It is safe to say that next term Man City have to be more disciplined and stop being a magnet for yellow cards, based on last year’s stats expect any Citizen you place in your team to obtain at least a few yellow cards to repay you for your faith in them.

 

 

Overall Record

Last season they finished an overall second place, in what can be described as still a disappointing season by their standards. Critical losses away from home and draws at the Etihad to teams in the bottom half the table are largely attributed to why they couldn’t challenge Chelsea for the title.

 

Pellegrini’s men had twenty four wins to their name, so they were always a consideration for savvy managers looking to use this to their advantage, but many of these wins were not consistent to the ruthless Man City the Premier League has come to know. Seven losses on their books last year and an equal amount of draws was surprising for FPL managers who found that in large stretches of the season it was clear that Manchester City players were not living up to their high price tags. Even Kun Aguero went on a five game goalless run with many players opting to make him captain in said weeks, even though they finished second they conceded an average of one goal a game which was frightening reading for managers who looked for more budget options as the Citizens’ defence was prone to collapsing under pressure. They did however keep a solid goal average of just over two a game, and this is still where all FPL managers see their biggest threat. The combination of David Silva and Kun Aguero was the two best options to have in your team, normally at the same time, and this year managers will be looking forward to having that same combination work in harmony once more to success for their teams.

 

Home & Away Form

Manchester City in being a top four team is look to play well both home and away, and in the past few seasons that has been the case. Manchester City can go to grounds and have the home crowd leaving by half time. The Citizens followed this trend for the season just gone, but they didn’t fully live up to their mantra. The Etihad Stadium was their primary stomping grounds with fourteen home wins, compared to the ten they achieved away from their home turf. Four of Manchester City’s five away losses last year occurred within six gameweek’s between March and April, starting with a 2-1 loss at Anfield to Liverpool, 1-0 away loss to Burnley, a 2-1 away loss to Pardew’s Crystal Palace and a comprehensive 4-2 defeat against rivals Manchester United.

 

Despite all of this their players are constant considerations for any FPL manager, especially Kun Aguero who is the FPL equivalent to a Randy Orton RKO meme that could literally strike out of nowhere.

 

Transfer Activity

Man City are now big spenders in transfer market, no surprises that they have again splashed the cash to get their man. This is their current transfer activity.

 

Player Name                      Former Club                       Fee

Raheem Sterling                Liverpool                            £49,000,000

Enes Unal                          Bursaspor                          £2,000,000

Patrick Roberts                  Fulham                               £11,000,000

Fabian Delph                     Aston Villa                          £8,000,000

 

So far Manchester City is a team still building for this season, fully expect this list to grow and for the amounts they pay for their new signings to make your eyes bleed. Manchester City’s biggest woes are their defence, so it will be interesting to see if they bring in anyone to support Mangala and Kompany at the heart of their defence. City have also been trying to get another class attacking midfielder in their ranks, which very well could predetermine which is the most likely position for Sterling and Silva behind Aguero.

 

In contract, City has actually done some good business to rebuild the club, with these notable players leaving for new ventures helping fund for this season.

 

Player Name                      New Club                           Fee

Matija Nastasic                  Schalke                              £8,500,000

Karim Rekik                       Marseille                             £3,500,000

Alvaro Negrado                 Valencia                             £24,000,000

Dedryck Boyata                 Celtic                                 £1,500,000

Scott Sinclair                      Aston Villa                         £2,500,000

Micah Richards                  Aston Villa                         Free Transfer

James Milner                     Liverpool                            Free Transfer

 

Micah Richards should have been given a chance ahead of Sagna for City last term, Aston Villa have gained a strong FPL option in defence due to this transfer. The loss of James Milner is their biggest loss this season for the team, and as a result has become a solid option for Liverpool. 

 

Current FPL Squad

As of the 25th July 2015 this is the full FPL Squad for Manchester City for the upcoming season. Under the ‘position’ column we have added the positions the players are most known for playing and can play.

 

Captain: Vincent Kompany

 

Category/Position/Price

 

Goalkeepers

Hart – GK – 5.5

Caballero – GK – 5.0

 

Defenders

Zabaleta – RB – 6.0

Mangala – CB – 5.5

Clichy – LB – 5.5

Kolarov – LB/LM – 5.5

Demichelis – CB – 5.5

Kompany – CB – 6.0

Sagna – RB – 5.0

Denayer – CB – 4.5

 

Midfielders

Silva – CAM/LW – 10.0

Sterling - ST/RW/LW/CAM – 9.0

Yaya Touré – CAM/CDM – 8.5

Navas – RM – 6.5

Fernandinho – CM/CDM – 6.0

Nasri – CAM/LM – 7.0

Delph – CM/CDM – 5.5

Fernando – CM/CDM – 5.0

Roberts – ST/CAM – 4.5

 

Forwards

Kün Agüero – ST – 13.0

Bony – ST – 8.5

Jovetic – LW/ST/CAM – 7.0

Dzeko – ST – 7.5

Pozo – ST – 5.0

 

Manchester City’s team is bound to change before the transfer window closes, with Dzeko and Jovetic likely to leave the club. At a club level the depth is great for the clubs ambition of winning every trophy, but not for FPL managers. Sagna at £5.0, Kolarov at £5.5, and Kompany at £6.0 do not represent good value for aspiring managers, arguably overpriced considering their defence wasn’t air-tight last season. With better defensive options it is no news that nobody can justify a sky blue shirt in defence for their line-ups, only until the season begins will anyone get to judge the state of their affairs in this department. 

 

 

Manchester City FPL Options

In hindsight of the last two seasons and their transfer activity so far there are in reality four reliable sources of FPL points for Manchester City this week. They are Kun Aguero, David Silva, Joe Hart, and new boy Raheem Sterling. There is no guarantee that from gameweek to gameweek one player will start consecutive games except for these four. We could extend this list to include Vincent Kompany if he stays fit all year, but as described earlier there are cautions about trusting in any of their defence.

 

Kun Aguero (ST, £13.0)

The argentine was last year’s top striker and golden boot winner, and is still the league’s best striker. No doubt those at one point most active FPL managers are going to have in in their teams. Aguero may not start the opening day which is why not many teams will select him right away, and with the inevitable price changes the most likely time managers will place him in their teams is after the first wildcard when teams know that he has returned to his starting berth in the squad. Whilst Aguero is a no-brainer, he is the most expensive player this year and from early trends many managers are investing in their midfield players. Having Aguero in your team for the first ten gameweek’s is a fine balancing act, and doubling down on cheap alternatives and wildcards to bolster your team.

 

With all that said expect a fully fit Aguero to be the best striking in the FPL this year, if he gets injured then the Etihad Group have to rethink their position on any success this year.

 

David Silva (MF, £10.0)

Man City’s diamond in midfield is David Silva, the Spaniard is an integral part of their team and his contribution to the team was only behind Kun Aguero’s, and quick footed Silva will want to build on last season to launch the Citizens to their desired success on all fronts. Silva scored twelve goals and made seven assists, launching him to claiming the third best midfielder slot. At £10.0 he represents a choice conscious option of investing in midfield, with many FPL managers torn between making room for Aguero in attack, or Silva in midfield. Eden Hazard’s position as the FPL king will mean that Silva is a second choice option for midfield, and based on his substitution record the Spaniard may be the option to also drop out of the two. David Silva will provide serious returns for managers, but with so much competition in midfield with the inclusions of Memphis Depay and Roberto Firmino to the league, and Alexis Sanchez due to enter the league a couple of gameweek’s in, it raises much doubt as to whether or not Silva is the best option to have.

 

The Hype Train believes that David Silva is proven FPL quality and will provide a lot for the Man City attack, he is lethal on the counter with Aguero and a also proven goal scorer who likes to get in advanced positions of the other midfielders. Man City are always amongst the goals, with Silva one of those players. Currently under fifteen percent of players trust in David Silva to get the job done, a surprisingly low figure on the eye, but when all the facts are counted a number that shouldn’t surprise anyone at all with the depth of FPL options managers have at their disposal this year.

 

Joe Hart (GK, £5.5)

Consistency is the key factor to Hart’s inclusion in this list, as the England number one has the goalkeeping slot locked down this year over Willy Caballero. Don’t expect him to play all thirty-eight games, there will be managers scratching their heads when it does inevitably happen.  The best option in this case is to have a solid £4.5mil goalkeeper as back up and rotation for Hart, such as Jack Butland, as Manchester City just don’t keep clean sheets in games high profile games amidst top four opposition, expect more of the same this year. Hart is a viable option, but one that comes with a pinch of salt when there are better and cheaper alternatives available.

 

Raheem Sterling (MF, £9.0)

After a long and drawn out transfer saga it was finally realised that the teenager would be leaving Liverpool for Manchester City. After being deployed a striker or attacking midfielder for the Reds the versatility in the position he can play is Sterling’s biggest boost. For Man City he will most likely be playing in one of the three attacking roles behind the main striker, most preferably just behind Aguero where he can latch onto passes from David Silva. There are many positives to having Raheem in your team, but the age old adage of being dropped at Man City is part of their culture as a football club. Expect him to not play every game, but expect him to be one of the four Man City players to play over thirty games alongside Hart, Aguero, and Silva. As proven when Sterling played with Suarez and Sturridge at their peak it bought the best out of the England international, and he could be enhanced by playing next to some of the best forwards in the Premier League once again.

 

Raheem barely gets injured, and can play anywhere in the forward line, and very well could be playing as a second striker to Kun Aguero, or as the main one when the argentine isn’t playing. Having paid nearly fifty million for the young Londoner you’d expect him to play every single game. If you are conscious of price, but want solid returns then Sterling may be the player for your teams. David Silva is bound to score high again and is proven at City, whereas Raheem is new and nobody knows how he will figure into their plans. Sterling is definitely a viable option that can play anywhere in the attack which is why he may be worth the risk, and after shining in pre-season for the Citizens he could be due for a big season in sky blue.

 

 

Set-Piece Takers

One of the core strengths of Man City is that they have a depth of players that are good at a dead ball situation; goalkeepers must fret each time they see Yaya Toure and Kolarov standing over the ball. To maximise set piece potential the two best options for your FPL team is Kun Aguero for penalties, and Yaya Toure for free kicks and penalties when Aguero isn’t playing. Kolarov won’t see much game-time; he may not even be there for the new season. If the Serbian is still at the Etihad and gets an extensive run at full-back then he is a smart pick for your team.

 

Penalties: Kun Aguero, Yaya Toure

Direct Free Kicks: Yaya Toure, Kolarov, Silva

Indirect Free Kicks: Yaya Toure, Kolarov, Silva

Corners: Silva, Kolarov, Toure

 

 

Potential Squad for Opening Day & Season

Kicking off their season with an away game against West Brom may not be the ideal start for Pellegrini’s men, a stubborn defence awaits their attack, but it is in the interest of the whole team to kick on and make a statement. For the upcoming season we can see City continuing to use their tried and tested 4-2-3-1 system, and currently we only see one major change to their line-up in the shape of Raheem Sterling. Future signings may impact on this starting eleven, but this is the team we expect to see play most of the season.

 

 

Manuel Pellegrini has been vocal over which of his players may be playing come the beginning of the season. Following the Copa America he understands that some of his squad may need an extra rest period, so Martin Demichelis, Kun Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, and Fernandinho may miss out on the action to kick off the season. Alongside this injuries to Delph and Bony may hinder their chances to start the season against West Brom at the Hawthorne’s which could lead to Sterling play as a striker as he has done in pre-season for City. Based on the players they have available the Citizens may line up like this on the opening day. 

 

 

Verdict

The Etihad Group may not be done assembling the Premier League’s equivalent of The Avengers, but the pressure is on for Manuel Pellegrini to have his team perform after winning no silverware last season.  Key signings such as Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling will only be the start of their rebuilding process, but Pellegrini is focused on bringing the right player in so FPL managers will have to patient to see if they can land any of their main targets. This verdict for Manchester City is clear cut as we know what to expect from them, and where their points are going to arise: Sergio Aguero.

 

Success to their season will hinge on his efforts; if he gets injured then the resurrection of Wilfried Bony in your fantasy team could finally be a reality. At this point of the season it is hard to judge whether Pellegrini is targeting league or Champions League success, further adding to rotation fears of managers across the lands. All we know is that Man City are a thorn in the side of managers who put trust in their players, for the returns they offer they do not offer the same consistency in comparison to Chelsea players who are priced at the same level. Maybe this season could be different, and that is part of the waiting game for managers to see how their season unfolds especially as they have some challenging fixtures in their first ten outings.

 

 

The Hype Train predicts that the Citizens are on course for a top-four finish in this year’s Premier League, and for FPL managers they have some strong options for their teams. Providing that they sign more quality additions to their team they could defy our prediction and challenge for the title this term, even though Chelsea are touted to continue their dominance the deep pockets of the Etihad Group would like to change that.

 

All aboard.

 

 

 

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