Manchester: Two great clubs of this city will begin their 2018-19 EPL campaign, but with different goals. While Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United will be keen to end their five-year title drought, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will definitely want to continue their dominance over their city rivals as well other clubs.
City won the EPL title with 100 points and United were second, but a massive 19 points behind and were never really in contention. The expectation was that United would spend big in the close-season window to strengthen key areas but only Brazilian midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and 19-year-old Portuguese full back Diogo Dalot have been added to the squad. This has clearly frustrated Mourinho who has warned fans to brace for ‘tough times ahead’.
The other problem for Mourinho has been the failure of star players like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and striker Romelu Lukaku to fire. Both Pogba and Lukaku were brilliant for their country in the Russia World Cup, but sadly have not shown the consistent form that Mourinho expected from them.
If Pogba, Sanchez and Lukaku click together, Man U have the potential to be an exciting team going forward with Fred offering help to Nemanja Matic in the centre of midfield.
For a club who have become accustomed to spending heavily in each transfer window, this has been a quiet close-season for Manchester City.
But such was Pep Guardiola’s team’s domination of the Premier League last season that reinforcements hardly seemed necessary and the solitary addition of Riyad Mahrez makes an already potent attack even more fearsome. Algerian Mahrez will compete with Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane for a place in City’s flexible forward line.
With Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus battling for the starting centre forward role and David Silva indispensable as the link between midfield and attack, Guardiola has abundant options.
For those who see an improving Liverpool as a real threat to City and Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur fans who hope for an open fight for the title, it is worth remembering just how dominant City were last season.
Guardiola’s side scored a record 106 goals at an average of 2.8 per match and dominated all the statistical categories and away from the numbers, their attacking, passing football was frequently a joy to watch.