Efter ett kortare uppehåll för landskamper är det äntligen dags för den riktiga fotbollen att dra igång igen och för vår del drar den verkligen igång på högvarv, för på lördag är det dags för stormatch. Våra motståndare är nämligen Manchester City som, precis som oss, har förlustnollan intakt och även om deras spel haltat till och från har de plockat sju poäng på de första tre matcherna. Richard Burns(@RichardTheBurns) är mannen att vända sig till när man vill veta mer om det ljusblå laget från Manchester och här berättar han om vad som hänt med laget under sommaren och hur säsongen varit hittills:
1. You have played three games in the league, what are your thoughts of Man City so far?
I think City have been OK without being spectacular. Against Brighton we absolutely dominated the game, but Brighton were more than happy to let that happen. What was really encouraging that despite their steadfast defending, City found a way to break them down and get the win. That patience and ability to keep going is going to be key to a lot of games this season. Against Everton we controlled the second half despite having 10 men and found a way back into the game. And against Bournemouth we were occasionally brilliant, occasionally shambolic and often somewhere in between.
2. The transfer window has closed, are you satisfied with the business you have made?
Yes. The full-backs were our weakest area by some distance and Pep, along the Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, has done a great job of remodeling those positions. We’ve got rid of four aging, slow full-backs and brought in three younger, fresher guys who look like they read the game better. We could have done with another left-back really, but Danilo can just about manage there so we should be OK. I would have loved Sanchez to join and I’d have liked Jonny Evans in and Eliaquim Mangala to leave, but I guess you can’t everything!
3. What do you expect from your team this year?
We have to push for the league title. Everything else is secondary, even the Champions League. We’ve been too far off the pace in the league since we last won it in 2014 and the fans won’t really accept another season like that. There are a lot of good teams in this league now so we can’t absolutely demand the trophy, but we have to be much, much closer.
4. Who would you say is your most important player this season?
That’s an almost impossible question. For as much as I could tell you it continues to be David Silva for his creativity and ball retention, I could just as easily try and convince you it’s Kevin De Bruyne for his ability to be a playmaker from deep or up top. That said, I could make a case for Kyle Walker or Benjamin Mendy as the likely two first-choice full-backs whose pace and judgement will be so pivotal to our attacking play and whose positioning will dictate the line the centre-backs take and how the midfield follows suit. Or it could be Vincent Kompany; his leadership and (hopefully) improved fitness will be crucial to our chances of improving the defence. Sorry, but I can’t answer the question directly!
5. Many people talk about your team as the favourite to win the league, how do you think the top six will be in the end of the season?
I think City and Manchester United will be in the top four. I would probably then put Chelsea in but who comes after that I have no idea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about Liverpool over the summer but the attacking play is pretty unbelievable. So I’ll say Liverpool are in there. And fifth and sixth…I’ll go Spurs and Everton. I might be going mad predicting Arsenal to finish outside of that but they are a laughing stock at the moment and I don’t see what will change that.
6. Finally, how do you think City will line up against us and what kind of game will we see?
Well, City v Liverpool games are often billed as the most exciting game on paper because both teams are committed to attacking play and have questionable defences. But it never works out that way and you always seem to get a result against us these days! My gut feeling says this will be more open than recent matches between us and I think a score draw could be on the cards. I expect City to go with three centre-backs and Mendy and Walker as wing-backs. I hope Bernardo Silva starts but who misses out as a result is anybody’s guess! Agüero and Jesus will probably both be up front but to be honest it’s like drawing names out of a hat at the moment and your guess is good as mine!