Manchester City celebrate against Arsenal, (c) Premier League Twitter.

Manchester City remain Premier League favourites without a striker too

Manchester City have failed to sign a striker this summer to replace Sergio Aguero, but are top contenders for the Premier League nonetheless.

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City can now focus single-mindedly on their Premier League title’s defence with the summer transfer window having slammed shut. The Sky Blues were linked with Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane over the course of the window but ultimately settled without signing either of them.

City’s failure in signing a striker means they have failed to replace the club’s all-time top scorer in Sergio Aguero who is now of Barcelona following his free agency.

After an uncharacteristic start to the season which saw them lose the FA Community Shield to Leicester City and the Premier League opener to Tottenham Hotspur, Guardiola’s men have returned to their brilliant best as they recorded consecutive 5-0 wins over Arsenal and Norwich City before the international break.

Manchester City have also been drawn in a daunting group of death in the Champions League, which will see them meet Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Even though the Champions League remains the holy grail which continues to elude them, it is fair to say that Manchester City will have equal focus towards conquering the Premier League yet again. This time around it may not be in a dominant fashion as in the past years, but one can certainly trust Guardiola to navigate past the toughest of opponents.

While Liverpool did not defend their title last season and only finished third in the league, the sheer number of injuries that they faced were an aberration which they will have hoped to recover from this time around.

Ibrahima Konate remains the Reds’ only major signing this summer but a rather unchanged squad that won them the Champions League and Premier League will be one to reckon with.

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are still some distance away from the traditional ‘top six’, but Chelsea and Manchester United have certainly bridged the gap in recent months between themselves and the last two title winners.

Thomas Tuchel made the Blues European champions in six months of taking over from Frank Lampard and has been rewarded with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez in the transfer market.

While a Champions League-winning squad would have anyway been good enough to contend for the league, one of Europe’s finest tacticians has been blessed with two of the continent’s finest players from recent years.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have spent a significant amount themselves by signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. The Portuguese’s arrival from Juventus, effectively at the eleventh hour, was a massive bonus to an already world-class roster.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has not won the Premier League in eight years and one would believe this is their best chance to do so in all these years.

Despite the emergence of new contenders, Manchester City are still at least a mile ahead of their rivals on paper, at the very least. Their experience and pedigree at winning the Premier League on a consistent basis is also an asset to behold.

The Citizens have an incredible squad depth which makes them superior from each of their rival, in this regard particularly. Pep Guardiola can effectively field two squads made of star-studded names and if that isn’t a testimony of their ferocious quality, they would not be serial winners domestically.

Guardiola’s contagious winning personality and his propensity to play without a striker will be an added advantage to City. While they may not have a player who can score 35 goals per season, they have many others who can chip in with 10, 15 or 20 through the campaign.

Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan will be the team’s go-to sources, whereas Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ferran Torres and Phil Foden are still seen as second-fiddle of works in progress by many of the game’s faithful in spite of their prolific attributes.

With the amount of possession Manchester City have, it is effectively impossible to break their defence which nevertheless boasts Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and John Stones in central defence, or Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo as full-backs.

Fernandinho and Rodri, originally defensive midfielders, but capable of operating in varied defensive roles are Guardiola’s other options at the back and can virtually walk into any of world football’s premier starting elevens.

And even though Pep Guardiola may have spent over a billion pounds in his career, it is almost impossible to find a manager with as much appetite to win than him. With such a squad and setup, Manchester City are as good as a recipe to Premier League victory.

It is very likely that they continue to play a false-nine system for the entirety of this season, but given the wide number of players who can get the goods on a regular basis and also defend them on the other end, only an extraordinarily special run from the other rivals or a major downfall at the Etihad Stadium could see there be a different winner of England’s top-flight this season despite the defending champions’ ‘problems’ with signing a striker.