Aug 14, 2013, 9:00 AM EST
Each day from now until the beginning of the Premier League season, we will preview two teams from England’s top flight. You can view them all here at PST Preview central. Don’t forget, the 2013-14 PL season begins on August 17th, and for the first-time ever you can watch every game live on NBC Sports.
Manchester City came blasting onto the top-of-the-table scene in 2009. Having been purchased by the oil-rich Abu Dhabi United Group – owned mainly by the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family and high up in the U.A.E. government – the club went on an unprecedented spending spree to blast them up the table from seasons of mid-table obscurity to fifth place in 2010, third place in 2011, and the Premier League title in 2012. The run also included winning the 2011 F.A. Cup, their first major trophy since 1976.
The Citizens now remain a force at the top of the table, although last season was a disappointment in relation to the previous three years of growth. They finished second in the Premier League, which on its own sounds like a success (hey, you can’t win ‘em all), but the kicker is that bitter rivals Manchester United dominated the league, winning the title by 11 points over City. That margin of defeat, plus defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup final and City’s enormously disappointing exit from the Champions League in the group stage – they finished last in their “group of death” along with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Ajax – cost former manager Roberto Mancini his job.
Transfers Out: D Wayne Bridge (Reading, England), D Kolo Toure (Liverpool, England), D Jeremy Helan (Sheffield Wednesday, England), F Carlos Tevez (Juventus, Italy), F Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga, Spain)
Key Player: Looking at Manchester City’s squad, it has some serious star power. Despite the losses of strikers Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez – both tabloid-favorites – in the last year, there still remains some big names. Englishman Joe Hart is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Sergio Aguero scored gobs of goals in their title-winning season two years ago, and remains vital in the attack. Midfielder Yaya Toure is world-renowned for his vision and strength. Defenders Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta had excellent seasons last year. However, with the sale of Tevez, new manager Manuel Pellegrini has moved the attacking spotlight directly onto previously underrated Edin Dzeko (pictured). More than ever, Dzeko will carry the load on his shoulders up front, with Aguero most likely stepping back into a supporting striker role.
It’s not to say he can’t handle it. The Bosnian superstar has had one of the best goal-per-minute numbers in the entire Premier League the past few seasons, despite most of his duties coming off the bench behind Tevez and Aguero. The 27-year-old scored 14 goals in 32 Premier League appearances, but only half those appearances were starts. That gave him a goal every 130 minutes last season. The year before that when City won the title? A spectacular 107 minutes per goal. And it’s not just the Premier League he’s lit up either – in the 2-1/2 Bundesliga seasons with Wolfsburg prior to moving to City, he scored a goal every 123 minutes.
Dzeko has the numbers and the pedigree for the full-time job at City. Now, he’s getting his chance.
Manager: Roberto Mancini was well-liked by Manchester City fans, but was unfortunately a victim of his own success. His title-winning season proved to the front office that the job could be done, and therefore the next season’s results – despite what would have been a smashing success a few years ago – were considered a severe disappointment. With rumors flying of his sacking the entire second half of last year, he began to alienate players and burn bridges, leading to his sacking following the season.
Chilean Manuel Pellegrini was hired in his stead, and the club is looking forwards. Pellegrini has a few big names on his managerial resume, but none for very long, and experience is where he lacks. He managed throughout South America for 15 years of his career, finally seeing major success with Argentinian giants River Plate which led to his hiring at La Liga’s Villareal. In Spain, Pellegrini saw smashing Champions League success at Villareal, Malaga, and Real Madrid, although his time at Madrid was short, losing his job to “The Special One” – something which Pellegrini has publicly expressed his regret, wishing he’d been given a chance to build a squad.
Last year, Pellegrini brought Malaga deeper into the Champions League than the club ever has been before, winning Group C with an unbeaten run of six matches against AC Milan, Zenit, and Anderlecht. They defeated Porto in the first knockout round, and missed out on a place in the semi-finals by losing to Borussia Dortmund in heartbreaking fashion, conceding two stoppage time goals with victory in their clutches. Despite the finish, his smashing success at Malaga in the Champions League – something that still eludes Manchester City – led him to be selected for the job.
Outlook: Manchester City has changed a lot since the end of last season. With a new manager, plus a relatively new target man up front, they will look to push towards more trophies. City goes as Edin Dzeko goes this year. They can manage marginal success without him, but they’ll need him to fire in goals at a high pace to bring home the silverware. New boys Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo were brought in with big money moves for both support and depth, and Sergio Aguero remains key. But at the moment, it all runs through Dzeko.
Mar 7, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Major League Soccer starts it’s big leap next season. In 2014, the league will enjoy the end of an era.
Mar 7, 2014, 3:40 PM EST
Where and how to watch every PL game live during Week 29:
Mar 7, 2014, 3:08 PM EST
With both newcomers and familiar faces, the 2014 MLS season features a jumble of quality at the front of attacks across the league.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Former coach Pia Sundhage, in charge of the USWNT when their streak began, guided Sweden to a 1-0 victory in the Algarve Cup – the USMNT’s first defeat in two years.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:03 PM EST
It once seemed incomprehensible that Leo Messi could leave Barcelona. But is it a possibility?
Mar 7, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Can Kansas City start their defense of the MLS Cup off on the right foot, grabbing a win at Seattle?
Mar 7, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
When Jonathan Walters converted his match-winner, there was only one song on the Stoke supporters minds: Delilah.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:43 AM EST
The regular MLS referees will be locked out of the weekend’s opening games, meaning the league will turn to qualified replacement officials.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:14 AM EST
The Manchester United manager penned a letter to season ticket holders praising their loyalty and promising the club will be great once more.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:25 AM EST
Juventus insist the midfielder isn’t for sale, but with at least three big names sniffing around, will the Italian giants be tempted?
Mar 7, 2014, 9:40 AM EST
Will either Cardiff or Fulham get the three points they so desperately need?
Mar 7, 2014, 8:43 AM EST
Don’t worry, Leo fans: Messi’s reaction during Argentina’s match against Romania was perfectly normal.
Mar 7, 2014, 7:51 AM EST
Will Spurs be able to break the spell José Mourinho has cast over Stamford Bridge?
Mar 7, 2014, 7:01 AM EST
Will United really pay such a high price for young Luke Shaw?
Mar 7, 2014, 2:26 AM EST
Joe Prince-Wright and Mike Prindiville discuss this weekend’s meeting relegation-embattled Cardiff City and Fulham.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:12 AM EST
What definitely will not happen in the upcoming Major League Soccer season.
Mar 6, 2014, 8:45 PM EST
Who’s hot and who’s not? It’s all change in the latest PL Power Rankings, as sides shuffle with 10 games to go:
Mar 6, 2014, 7:54 PM EST
The Supporters’ Shield winners could be without Henry, Cahill, and Olave on Saturday in Vancouver.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:39 PM EST
Atlanta will have to stumble to miss out on expansion, with Minneapolis also looking like a favorite to snare on of the league’s next franchises.
Mar 6, 2014, 5:23 PM EST
No. 1 was easy. It’s 2 through 10 that were hard.
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