Asked to choose between being the first side to retain the Premier League title in almost ten years and winning the coveted Champions League, most Manchester City fans would probably choose the latter.
While some argue that City’s Champions League ambitions might have to be put on hold for a few more years, Pep Guardiola’s men look on course to retain the Premier League title despite only playing their season opener against Arsenal on Sunday.
Last season, City were hailed by many as one of the greatest Premier League sides and with good reason after Guardiola’s men bulldozed their way to the title and smashed the league’s points record. Second placed Manchester United were an embarrassing 19 points behind The Citizens.
The new Premier League season kicked-off on Friday night after this summer’s English transfer window closed three weeks earlier than usual on August 9 — a result of managers complaining that signing players once the season gets under way causes disrupts their squads.
The season’s curtain raiser saw last season’s runners-up, Manchester United recover from their pre-season blues and a quiet transfer window by edging former champions Leicester at Old-Trafford in the season’s opener on Friday night 2-1. The Foxes were without Algerian star man Riyad Mahrez who joined the champions in the summer.
On Saturday London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs and Chelsea also earned expected wins with Mauricio Pochettino’s men earning a 2-1 victory over an unlucky Newcastle side. While Thibaut Courtios-less Chelsea fresh from their Community Shield loss against City impressed new boss Maurizio Sarri with a 3-0 victory away at Huddersfield with Italian mid-fielder scoring from the spot on his premier league debut.
Despite the usual suspects clocking what many would consider routine victories, a poor transfer window for most of the favourites might have handed City the title with Liverpool’s acquisitions making them the best placed team to challenge the defending champions. The Reds finished a mammoth 25 points behind the champions.
The Reds were the transfer window’s biggest spenders spending around £164-million (R2.8-billion) bringing in the likes of Fabinho, Naby Keita, Alisson, and Xherdan Shaqiri. Liverpool will be looking to avoid last season’s 12 (7 at Anfield) in the league.
In contrast, Liverpool’s rivals United had an underwhelming summer with Brazilian midfielder Fred the most notable signing despite missing out on the title by 19 points last season. While perennial big spenders City also had a relatively quiet transfer window with the champions adding Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez to their already glittering roster
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho lauded Liverpool for its acquisitions and said The Reds should contend for the title.
“The problem is you have to invest well and honestly I think they did very well, because every player they bought are quality players. I’m happy for them,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“That’s OK. But maybe this season finally you demand they win. Now you have to demand and say the team – with the investments you are making last season and you make now, that will probably be the record of the Premier League this season, a team that was a finalist in the Champions League – you have to say you are a big candidate, you have to win,” Mourinho continued.
Liverpool undoubtedly look like a stronger side, but have they done enough to close the 25-point gap between themselves and City?