Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City will head into the 2022-23 campaign as the bookmakers' favourites to maintain their position at the summit of English football, as they bid to clinch their fifth top-flight crown in six seasons.
Pep Guardiola's side were pushed all the way once again by perennial title rivals Liverpool, but they managed to finish last season one point clear of the Reds and became the only club to retain the title not once but twice this decade.
The Premier League title was the only silverware secured by the Citizens last season as they fell short in both domestic cups as well as the Champions League.
City have since experienced a busy summer transfer window of both incomings and outgoings, but Guardiola will be confident that his side is now stronger to compete on all fronts and maintain their exceptionally high standards on the world stage.
Here, Sports Mole previews Man City's 2022-23 campaign and takes an in-depth look at what supporters can expect during the course of the season.
For the sixth successive season, Man City will begin their Premier League campaign away from home, and in 2022-23 they will make the trip to the London Stadium to face West Ham United on the opening day.
The Citizens will host newly-promoted Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium on August 13 in their first home game of the new season, before finishing the month with encounters against Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.
The first Manchester derby will take place on the blue side of the city with Guardiola's men playing host to Manchester United on October 1, while away visits to Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester City are also pencilled in the diary later that month.
After a six-week break between mid-November and late December for the 2022 World Cup, City will resume their Premier League campaign with a trip to Leeds United on Boxing Day, with summer signing Kalvin Phillips returning to familiar territory, before ending 2021 with a home clash against Frank Lampard's Everton.
The reigning top-flight champions will begin the new year with two challenging fixtures away at both Chelsea and Man United, before another tricky trip to Spurs at the beginning of February.
A potential title-decider could take place on April 1 when City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad, before facing five more league games within 21 days in the same month, on top of potential fixtures in the Champions League and domestic cup knockout rounds.
City are scheduled to face Chelsea at home in their penultimate Premier League fixture before concluding the campaign with a final-day clash away at Brentford on May 28.
Fernandinho (free, Athletico Paranaense)
Gabriel Jesus (£47m, Arsenal)
Raheem Sterling (£50m, Chelsea)
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£32m, Arsenal)
Gavin Bazunu (£12m, Southampton)
Romeo Lavia (£10.5m, Southampton)
Pedro Porro (£7.2m, Sporting Lisbon)
Darko Gyabi (£5.2m, Leeds United)
Ko Itakura (£4.5m, Borussia Monchengladbach)
Arijanet Muric (undisclosed, Burnley)
Jayden Braaf (free, Borussia Dortmund)
CJ Egan Riley (free, Burnley)
Ryotaro Meshino (free, Gamba Osaka)
Kwaku Oduroh (free, Derby County)
Daniel Arzani (free, Macarthur)
Zack Steffen (loan, Middlesbrough)
Taylor Harwood-Bellis (loan, Burnley)
Tommy Doyle (loan, Sheffield United)
James Trafford (loan, Bolton Wanderers)
Diego Rosa (loan, Vizela)
Callum Doyle (loan, Coventry City)
Lewis Fiorini (loan, Blackpool)
Cieran Slicker (loan, Rochdale)
Total spent to date: £95.1m
Total received to date: £168.4m
Net transfer balance: £73.3m
STAR PLAYER - KEVIN DE BRUYNE
Erling Braut Haaland may be in the headlines following his summer transfer to the Etihad, but last season's Premier League Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne remains Man City's star player heading into the new campaign.
The 31-year-old ended last season as the club's top scorer in the Premier League and as the top-scoring midfielder in the division, netting a career-high 15 goals in 30 games. Across all competitions, the playmaker scored 19 times and provided 14 assists in 45 appearances.
De Bruyne was unable to hit the ground running last term, due to a few niggling injuries and contracting coronavirus, but from mid-December onwards the Belgium international played a starring role in City's charge to yet another top-flight title.
Since joining the Citizens in 2015, De Bruyne has established himself as one of the world's best midfielders and he is now regarded as a leader in City's dressing room as he is one of only five senior players over the age of 30.
De Bruyne is set to be in the frame, along with Ruben Dias, to take over from Fernandinho as the club's new captain, but whether he wears the armband or not, he is sure to have a major influence on City's season across all tournaments in 2022-23.
MANAGER - PEP GUARDIOLA
Regarded as arguably the greatest manager in the modern era, Pep Guardiola is preparing to embark on his seventh season as manager of Man City, and he remains as hungry as ever to dominate English football by claiming more silverware in 2022-23.
Last season, the 51-year-old was unable to go all the way in both the FA Cup and EFL Cup, and he fell short again in the latter stages of the Champions League, but he was able to get his hands on his 10th top-flight title as a manager and the fourth in charge of City.
Despite the departures of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Premier League rivals, Guardiola still has plenty of strength in depth within his squad, and the arrivals of Haaland, Phillips, Alvarez and Ortega will provide fresh competition for the existing players at the club.
Guardiola has developed a winning mentality at the Etihad, with 12 players in his current squad lifting at least three major trophies since his arrival in 2016.
The Champions League still eludes them all, though, and while Guardiola will be keen for his City side to break their duck in Europe's elite club competition, domestic success has always been prioritised by the Spaniard. Competition will be fierce once again in 2022-23, but Guardiola has faith in his players to build upon last season's title success.
LAST SEASON - CHAMPIONS
After winning Premier League titles in 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21, Man City came away from last season with yet another top-flight crown, accumulating over 90 points for the third time.
The Citizens made a poor start to the campaign as a 1-0 loss to Leicester City in the Community Shield was followed by defeat by the same scoreline against Spurs on the opening day of the Premier League season – the latter result, however, proved to be their only away league defeat all season.
Emphatic 5-0 league wins over Norwich City and Arsenal as well as a 6-3 Champions League group-stage victory over RB Leipzig followed between the end of August and September, before they suffered defeat away at Paris Saint-Germain and drew 2-2 against title rivals Liverpool at Anfield in October. The same month saw City's four-year dominance in the EFL Cup brought to an end by West Ham, who won 5-3 on penalties in the fourth round.
City ended the month with a surprise 2-0 home loss to Crystal Palace, leaving Guardiola's side five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, but that defeat sparked an impressive run of 15 victories in their next 16 matches across all competitions – including 12 successive league wins – scoring 45 goals in the process.
After qualifying for the Champions League knockout rounds as group winners at the end of 2021, City continued their impressive domestic form until they suffered defeat in the league to Spurs in February, with last summer's transfer target Harry Kane netting twice at the Etihad.
A comfortable 4-1 victory over rivals Man United provided them with a major boost in March, but then a goalless draw away at Crystal Palace allowed an in-form Liverpool to close the gap at the top to just one point.
In April, City renewed acquaintances with Jurgen Klopp's side on two occasions, firstly drawing 2-2 at the Etihad in the Premier League before suffering a 3-2 defeat in the FA Cup semi-finals. In between these fixtures, the Citizens claimed a slender 1-0 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid in a fiery Champions League last-16 tie.
Thirteen-time champions Real Madrid would be their next opponents in the semi-finals, and although they secured a memorable 4-3 first-leg win, several missed opportunities in this encounter proved costly. Los Blancos managed to turned the tie around in dramatic circumstances when Rodrygo netted two second-leg goals in stoppage time to force the match into extra time, before Karim Benzema scored the winner to condemn City to a devastating semi-final exit.
City had no time to reflect on their disappointing defeat as they were thrown straight back into Premier League action in May. Both Newcastle and Wolves were smashed for five by the Citizens, with De Bruyne netting four goals in a remarkable performance against the latter, before a 2-2 draw with West Ham allowed Liverpool to close the gap to the summit to only one point heading into the final day of the season.
Man City and final-day drama go hand-in-hand in the Premier League and both City supporters and football neutrals were not disappointed when they witnessed another remarkable comeback victory at the Etihad. Guardiola's side were losing 2-0 to Aston Villa heading into the final 15 minutes before three goals in five minutes from Ilkay Gundogan (2) and Rodri turned the game on its head in spectacular fashion, with City holding on to claim their fourth title in five years.
Many had question marks over whether Man City could challenge on all fronts without a recognised centre-forward last season. While they fell short in three competitions, they excelled once again in the Premier League and ended the campaign as the division's highest scorers.
Guardiola now has a new number nine and one of the deadliest strikers in Europe at his disposal in the form of Haaland, who will relish the deliveries provided to him by the likes of De Bruyne, Mahrez and Grealish on a regular basis.
The Citizens are as driven as ever to claim silverware this term, and although they will distance themselves from conversations about an unprecedented quadruple, this squad, along with Liverpool, are capable of achieving what no other English team has done before.
Liverpool will push City all the way once again, and the remaining so-called top-six clubs are also set to improve on last season, but the reigning Premier League champions remain a force to be reckoned with and have what it takes to come out on top for a third successive season.
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