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2019/20 Premier League preview - Manchester City: Pep Guardiola's side favourites for three in a row

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Manchester City ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Kevin De Bruyne struggled with unjury last season, but now fully recovered, he is set to be a key player for Manchester City. Getty Images
Kevin De Bruyne struggled with unjury last season, but now fully recovered, he is set to be a key player for Manchester City. Getty Images

After 100 points and 98, perhaps Manchester City are only on course for 96. They start as favourites to win a third successive title, having normalised both winning and thrashing.

The Treble winners may have an eye on Europe and triumphing in the Uefa Champions League, but there will be a focus, too, on David Silva, in his final season in Manchester.

City could do with Benjamin Mendy being fitter for longer and Riyad Mahrez finding his Leicester form but, when Leroy Sane spent some of last season on the bench and Gabriel Jesus got 21 goals in a bit-part role, they are operating in a position of enviable strength.

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Who finishes where in 2019-20?

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Key player: John Stones

The Englishman’s last two seasons have followed similar patterns, with terrific first halves followed by bit-part roles thereafter. With Vincent Kompany gone and no centre-back signed, it is imperative Stones sustains his form. His partnership with Aymeric Laporte promised much in the early part of the last campaign.

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Manchester City's treble winners ratings

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Signing to watch: Rodri

For four transfer windows, City targeted holding midfielders, aware that Fernandinho is in his mid-thirties and, such is his excellence, can feel irreplaceable. In Rodri, bought from Atletico Madrid, they have finally found someone who be both ball-winner and ball player, starting City attacks and stopping their opponents from breaking.

Talking point: Is this the year Kevin de Bruyne gets the individual honours?

The Belgian was brilliant in 2017/18; sadly for him, so was Mohamed Salah. That 68-game campaign felt a reason why his 2018/19 was interrupted by injuries but there were still times – the Champions League exit to Tottenham or his FA Cup final cameo – when he was exceptional.

De Bruyne’s range of attributes and innate drive mean he can look the best player in the country; so fine that Bernardo Silva, City’s outstanding individual last year, may have to revert to the right wing to accommodate him. He could also replace Kompany as captain.

Prediction: 1st

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:29 PM

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