Manchester City have got off to an inconsistent start to the season after a strong finish to an otherwise disappointing campaign last time around.
The Sky Blues brought in three new players for the first team who will understandably take time to settle down but with City already behind in the title race, they will need to step up to the plate quickly.
Mid-table teams have strengthened considerably over the summer and have begun the season with vengeance and ambition to topple the duopoly at the top of the table and given such developments, Pep Guardiola will have to get his combination right as early as possible.
Here I will take a look at the strongest Manchester City lineup which could feature for most of the games this season, considering the players remain fit.
STRONGEST MANCHESTER CITY LINEUP FOR THE 2020-21 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON (4-3-3)
Ederson is the undisputed No.1 in goal and will as such feature throughout the campaign barring any injury or suspension.
Like his team, he has had an inconsistent start to the season, dazzling and disappointing against Leeds in equal measure.
Kyle Walker makes the Manchester City lineup as the right-back owing to his solid displays over a long period of time. But Joao Cancelo should get a look in at some point if Pep opts for a more attack-minded fullback on the right.
Ruben Dias has come in for a record fee and will be the first choice right-sided centre-back alongside City’s best defender Aymeric Laporte. The pair, if they manage to get their chemistry right, should be able to treat a huge City malaise.
Left-back has been another problem area for the Sky Blues and they have failed to address that area, letting Angelino leave the club for another loan.
Benjamin Mendy has been extremely poor defensively and is running out of time to prove himself in City colours. I don’t see Mendy, in his current form, as part of City’s strongest lineup and therefore will prefer Nathan Ake, another new addition, as the more dependable option on the left. He could be used more as an inverted fullback, a role Fabian Delph flourished in City’s record-breaking season.
With opponents depending deep with 10 men behind the ball at times, Mendy’s low crosses have failed to benefit City till now and given the lack of height across the frontline, even if he gets the odd cross right, the forwards are more likely to fail to benefit from it, thus almost nullifying an in-form Mendy’s biggest strength.
Rodri has failed to ape Fernandinho’s dynamism and all-round gameplay till now, thus visibly weakening City’s midfield. But the team management has decided to trust him in the role and he should get better with the likes of Fernandinho and Pep providing the guidance.
City played their best football under Pep with David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne playing free roles either side of Fernandinho in positions loosely referred to as ‘free 8s’.
The Spaniard’s exit leaves a gaping hole but Pep has Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva as options to try and replicate a similar system. Foden has flourished in advanced areas till now but Bernardo’s dribbling and his ability to track back and put in tackles make him a better option to try out on the left of a midfield 3.
Kevin de Bruyne is the obvious candidate to play on the right of Rodri in an advanced role and City will hope he finds his rhythm as the season progresses.
Raheem Sterling makes the City forward line in any writer’s preferred Manchester City lineup and for me, he plays on the left of the front three. His ability to cut in and beat defenders before taking a shot is still intact and Pep will need more of the same as his team look to climb up the table.
Sergio Aguero, when fit, makes the Manchester City lineup and even though it might seem unfair to a hard-working and in-form Gabriel Jesus, City need Sergio’s experience and clinical nature to ensure they stop wasting bucketload of chances every game.
The right side of the front three is another area which sees a lot of chopping and changing with Bernardo, Foden, Mahrez and new signing Ferran Torres all options to play in that role.
But in the short term as the best option on the basis of experience and goal-scoring prowess, I see Riyad Mahrez being the candidate to start in the Manchester City lineup.