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This season the race for the Premier League is wide open.

Potentially four teams are challenging for the title and the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool will be not too far behind the pack come May 2014.

Arsenal’s squad is in a good overall shape and they have money to spend, but so far have been slow to recruit. Manchester United have failed to land any of their big summer targets and could be set for a loss if Wayne Rooney gets his way and leaves the club. The other two are looking strong. Chelsea enhanced by the return of their charismatic crowd favourite Mourinho, have strengthened with recruitments but also through the returning of last season’s loan stars adding more quality and depth to a young talented squad. Chelsea finished last season incredibly strong whereas Manchester City on the other hand coasted to the end. The Citizens season was already over by March except for the FA Cup but this manifested itself in a shock defeat to Wigan which in the end cost Mancini his job.

City have strengthened like no other this season. They recognised what they wanted and they went out and got it. New man Pellegrini has acted smartly, getting his transfer business done early giving him maximum time with his squad and new arrivals before the start of the season. His signings have also been smart.

Manchester City new signings Alvaro Negredo, left, Stevan Jovetic, centre, and Jesus Navas

Manchester City new signings Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas

City have many big name players and big name players sometimes tend to come with big ego’s. Recent examples at the club have been Balotelli and Tevez who clashed with previous manager Mancini in some aspect or another. They have been cut loose and replaced. Pellegrini hasn’t just replaced them with more big name players, he has replaced them with professionals and players who fit into his system. Mancini favoured strikers out wide, or central trequaristas playing from wide coming inside. This was successful in winning him the title two years back, the likes of David Silva performing well in this role. However last season they struggled and the lack of penetration from natural wingers cost the side. In the end they finished with only 66 goals despite coming 2nd. Liverpool finished 7th with 71. Navas has been added, a real speed merchant who is almost uncatchable when he is tearing to the by-line. He is often used by the Spanish national side as a plan-b because of his ability to provide quality out wide.

At Sevilla Navas formed a good partnership and a good understanding with the Spanish hit man Alvaro Negredo. The former Madrid man had a goal return last season of 25 in La Liga and City added him to their ranks as well. He is a good professional who gives them a genuine number 9 threat. Last season City lacked a goal scorer with Aguero not fulfilling his 1st season promise, Balotelli out of form, Dzeko lacking confidence at stages and Tevez inconsistent. In short Negredo will get goals. With two of the above player left, there will be less rotation through the ranks and more time on the pitch for the current strikers to find form and improve that goals tally.

Another key addition has been the Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic. City have had big profile strikers who like to score goals but they have often lacked a forward who is isn’t the key man, a striker who offers balance and prefers to be part of the build up, opening space and helping out the other attackers. This is why the addition of Jovetic could prove to be a massive hit for City. His goal return of 13 in 29 last season was good and he is a striker who will still score goals, but his style of play and his intelligence on the pitch will be his key asset. He can lead the line but has said himself he prefers to either be played behind the striker or out left. Tactically having Jovetic support goal scorers of immense quality such as Aguero, Negredo and even Dzeko could give City an advantage in the race for the title.

Stevan Jovetic's passes received against Inter Milan

Jovetic’s passes received against Inter. Look at the varied positions he gets into around the box and in the channels. He finished the game with two goals and an assist.

Stevan Jovetic managed to create 5 chances for others throughout the game

Jovetic managed to create 5 chances for others throughout the game. One of these lead to a goal. With City’s quality up front to finish a higher number of these chances, Jovetic could have a very good season.

The other capture for City which was the one that they saw the most criticism for was the recruiting of the Donetsk holding midfielder Fernandinho. The fee was around £34million and although anyone who has seen the Brazilian play can’t deny he has quality, there are few who could argue that Manchester City didn’t overspend even slightly. Fernandinho isn’t a natural holder in the mould of De Jong who breaks up play physically and then plays the ball to a more talented attacker. Nor is he in the Javi Garcia mould of a quiet blocker who tactically closes angles and shelters back fours without drawing much attention.

Fernandinho arrives for £34m from Shakhtar

Fernandinho arrives for £34m from Shakhtar

Fernandinho is similar to Yaya Toure but without as dominating a physical presence. He plays with a lot of energy a real box to box type player. Perhaps one player he draws comparisons too is Ramires at Chelsea. It was against Chelsea in the Champions League last season Fernandinho made a huge impact, scoring once but maintain an excellent overall standard of play. He again gives City more options in the centre of the pitch, strong in the tackle and with a good reading of the game, the Brazilian is comfortable with the ball at his feet and getting at the opposition.

Fernandinho defensively against Chelsea

Fernandinho defensively against Chelsea. Two tackles including one just in front of the 18 yard box, three interceptions and a block.

Fernandinho contributed well to the attacking part of his side. 7 shots, 3 on target and a goal

In addition to his defensive duties in front of the back four, Fernandinho contributed well to the attacking part of his side. 7 shots, 3 on target and a goal show the varied nature of his play.

Post written by ThreeManDefence
Blog: threemandefence.blogspot.co.uk, Twitter: @ThreeManDefenc

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