Manchester put on one of the greatest displays that the footballing world had ever seen last season. With City literally stopping any United title celebrations in their tracks as the last few seconds of the season ticked away, this season seems destined to see the two rivals battling to the finish for the league title. With City choosing to meander their way through a rather quite transfer window and United being the Manchester team to splash the cash, the summer has already set-up a fantastic Manchester showdown. Which color will we see raising the trophy in May? Will the city be painted with red or blue?
The attacking part of City will see the juggling act of Roberto Mancini as he tries to decide who to put out on the field. Although Aguero seems to be a lock for anyone making the starting 11, the other strikers are no less dangerous. Balotelli was one of the most prolific attackers in the Euro’s and Tevez seems to be prepared to give City a full season of commitment instead of just a few weeks here and there. Even Dzeko, if he chooses to stay, is a very accomplished striker that still seems like he will consistently score over ten goals a season and Emmanuel Adebayor still has not found a new home…if he stays then the stable that City will have to choose from is absolutely ludicrous.
As I stated last season in an article, Vincent Kompany may be one of the top 5 defenders in the world. He will continue to marshal an impressive defense with a goalkeeper that will only improve as he ages. Consider that Hart is already the quick choice for England’s #1 and the fact that City had the best defensive record during last season and it seems like they will have a strong foundation for any trophy that they hope to obtain this season. Add in that Gael Clichy seems more comfortable in the back four and that Micah Richards will only improve with age and the City defense seems prepared to be great for years to come.
Prediction: 2nd or even 3rd in the EPL. Not too far past the group stages in the CL but they will better their campaign from last season.
Will United have to wait much longer to snag what they believe is rightfully theirs? The simple answer is “no.” Last season, the Red Devils were seconds away from walking away with the title and they were in that situation while having to deal with an abhorrent number of injuries. Sir Alex Ferguson would probably be able to make anyone into a top four team and United have bolstered their attack with some serious pieces in the summer transfer window. If they are able to keep their squad healthy and if they can keep Sir Alex as the boss, it is tough to see how they will be unable to take back the title once the end of the season arrives.
Once again, I must mention one of the keys to United’s success this season is their overall health. Considering that Vidic was rarely healthy and that many other defenders spent significant time injured, it seems that United will be even stronger in defense (they already had the second best record last season). Factor in that De Gea seems to grow in confidence with every game and with every save, and it seems like an amazing back-line. If the defense stays healthy then they may end the season as the best defensive squad by some distance. It is also an added bonus that the talents of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, and Phil Jones are rather young and that they can only improve under the tutelage of Vidic and Ferdinand.
Manchester United is very similar to Arsenal when it comes to predicting their season’s outcome. No matter what you say, Sir Alex will have them battling tooth and nail for the title when the last few fixtures come around. As mentioned earlier, the sheer fact that United were seconds away from their 20th title with such a battered and bruised squad seems to make my decision much easier. Although Chelsea will be much more of a competitor this season, and City will certainly not want to give their “bragging rights” away so easily, United brings back a squad that had the ability to win last season and they added some high-quality pieces. The only way I see this prediction going south is if they encounter the same uphill battle with health that they encountered last season and if they find themselves stretched too thin by cup runs and CL aspirations. However, I do not think Sir Alex will allow them to focus too highly on anything besides the league as it should be their main goal in the upcoming months.