Man City have bought well in the window but not replaced Vincent Kompany

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THE new Premier League season is underway with the summer transfer window slamming shut last Thursday.

And we now exactly know how the top flight squads will look for the first half of the new campaign.

Even though Pep Guardiola headed back to the transfer market, he failed to replace Vincent Kompany
Reuters

The big fight, of course, will be for the Champions League places and the cash windfall on offer for the sides that earn a place in European football’s elite.

But six into four does not go – at least, not without two missing out.

SunSport is analysing the Big Six and their readiness for action.

We’ve already taken a look at Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Today, we’re heading back to Manchester to see whether the Prem champions City are ready to defend their hard-fought title.

What were the issues?

How do you improve on greatness, is the question.

Then again, we know that Pep Guardiola is never satisfied with anything, constantly striving for improvement.

And this summer, with Vincent Kompany announcing his exit back to Belgium just 24 hours after lifting the Premier League trophy at Brighton, Guardiola had to think about his next move.

The ongoing and regular injury absences of Benjamin Mendy, plus Fabian Delph’s move to Everton, suggested Guardiola might be prepared to look for left-back reinforcements.

He was linked for much of last season with Leicester’s Ben Chilwell.

And, likewise, there was plenty of chat to hint that City were seeking to find Fernandinho’s long-term successor as the holding midfielder – buying before they actually needed to.

Despite Kompany leaving, Guardiola passed up on the opportunity to sign Harry Maguire, who then moved to local rivals Man United
PA:Press Association

Have they been addressed?

Partially, if not fully. But certainly well.

For a while, the £62m purchase of Rodri from Atletico Madrid looked like being the only major movement.

Watching him for the first time at Wembley on Sunday, and there was plenty to be impressed by – physically imposing, strong in the tackle, prepared to slip a naughty one in on the sly as well.

Guardiola tends to know what he wants – and get what he wants.

Then, as the deadline neared closure, a British record fee for a full-back, with Joao Cancelo joining from Juventus, in a deal which saw Danilo going the other way.

That looks like an improvement too – and will have raised concerns, perhaps, for Kyle Walker.

Deadline day signing Joao Cancelo has become the most expensive full-back in Premier League history
AFP or licensors

The Portuguese defender can operate on the left, potentially helping answer that small question mark, although there is expectation about new recruit Angelino too.

Certainly, while he has that impressive unbeaten record on the pitch, Oleksandr Zinchenko looked something of a weak link against Mo Salah at the weekend.

But there has been no direct replacement for Kompany.

City looked at Harry Maguire but were less desperate than neighbours United to meet Leicester’s asking price.

They do have John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi, while Walker played on the right of a defensive three for England at the World Cup.

Perhaps, though, if Rodri does make the impact Guardiola expects, we will see more of Fernandinho in that back line.

It did seem as if Leroy Sane was going to return to Germany, with Bayern Munich keen on him.

But the German champions buckled at City’s expectations before the cruciate ligament injury he picked up at Wembley scuppered any possibility of a deal.

In Rodri, Guardiola has brought in a long-term successor to Fernandinho, who can now play in the back line more often
Getty Images – Getty

What they must do now?

Win, of course. Nothing more, nothing less.

Guardiola seems happy enough with his squad. That is no surprise.

There may be changes over the next few years.

But for now Sergio Aguero and David Silva remain and while both may decide it is time to move on at the end of the season, they are very much the team to beat once again.

Guardiola will be keen to see more of the same from Raheem Sterling, who grew both on and off the pitch last season as he relished his role as a leader of the side and a social voice.

The one thing he will definitely want to see more of is Kevin De Bruyne, whose physical frailties, on the back of a World Cup season, meant he was far less influential last season than in the previous campaign.

Kevin De Bruyne is hoping to become Man City’s leader again after injuries torpedoed his last season
PA:Press Association

Summer transfer mark (out of 10): 7

Youngsters who impressed: Phil Foden, Lukas Nmecha

Manager’s tactical input:

What we know is that Guardiola believes reinventing the wheel, on a regular basis, is akin to an obligation for him.

You can bet your bottom dollar his eyes lit up at the new goal kick law, allowing his first pass out to be even shorter.

There will be new tricks. That is a guarantee.

But if City’s front men remain fit and firing, they will fancy themselves to make it three in a row.


Star man:

Injured for too much of last season and just one star amid a constellation of talents. But if Kevin De Bruyne plays well, City play well.

Likely starting XI (4-1-4-1): Ederson; Joao Cancelo, Fernandinho, Laportte, Mendy; Rodri; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Sterling; Aguero

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