A Season In Review: Man City

Erling Haaland celebrates scoring in Premier League Matchweek 15

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Transfer Windows

Man City have the ability now to do anything in the transfer window. They could sign nobody and have a brilliant season and still win trophies. They could sign anyone they want, but this does not mean they go and spend money on any player that crosses their mind.

This season they were a lot more calculated in who they brought into the club, and who left. Aguero retired at the end of the last season and Fernandinho left on a free, already leaving two massive gaps in the squad.

Young goalkeeper Muric moved to Burnley whilst Pedro Porro made the transfer to Sporting CP. Cancelo made a surprise loan move to Bayern Munich after a potential falling out with Guardiola over his game time.

City then strengthened some of their Premier League rivals. They sold Raheem Sterling to Chelsea, and then let Zinchenko and Jesus move to their London rivals, Arsenal.

City did manage to replace a lot of these positions. Rico Lewis stepped up from their youth system to fill in at full-back. Sergio Gomez arrived from Anderlecht to help strengthen City’s defence, alongside Akanji from Dortmund.

Ortega arrived on a free transfer to replace the outgoing Muric. City also invested heavily twice in their squad. They signed Kalvin Phillips, the standout performer from Leeds’ squad the previous season, and they also brought in Erling Haaland from Dortmund, to replace Aguero.

All in all, it seemed like a very strong transfer window from Man City to start with. They sold some of their deadwood player who was not getting a look in, and they brought in some world-class players. We all know how well the Haaland transfer ended up.

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Key Games

In a season where a team only lost 5 games in the Premier League, it is hard to find a key game that really transformed their season. In terms of Man City, I think their first meeting with Arsenal in the league could be regarded as their turning point.

City came into their first meeting with Arsenal in the Premier League midway into February, at The Emirates. The game was one of the high stakes. Built up to be a potential league decider, with both sides vying for the league title.

City came into the game on the back of a loss against Arsenal’s fierce rivals Spurs, and then a win against Aston Villa. They needed a win to continue their title charge, and to catch back up to Arsenal.

Kevin De Bruyne continued his fine season by opening the scoring for City after 24 minutes, in what was a nervy affair. After being dominated for most of the first half, Bukayo Saka found himself equalising after Arsenal were awarded a penalty.

The two teams continued to cancel each other out, until Jack Grealish found the back of the net with less than 20 minutes left to play, giving City the lead again. Goal machine Haaland made sure of the 3 points, making it 3-1 with 8 minutes left to play, giving City a big 3 points that took them top of the league.

This result really gave City the confidence that they could catch Arsenal and they could win the title. The other key game was actually the reverse fixture against Arsenal. City ran out 4-1 winners, running Arsenal ragged.

That result gave City the advantage, knowing that if they won their remaining 7 games, they would win the league title. It upset Arsenal’s rhythm, as they dropped even more points in the coming games, handing City the title.

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Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Man City have a history of being given ‘easy’ ties in cup competitions, but this season, that theory went out the window.

They opened up their Carabao Cup run with a third-round tie against last season’s runners-up Chelsea. Chelsea was poor, from start to finish, as City scored twice in 5 second-half minutes, through Mahrez and Alvarez, booking them a spot in the fourth round.

After beating the runners-up, they were then drawn against last season’s Carabao Cup winners, Liverpool. It was a classic game between the two sides. Haaland opened the scoring after 10 minutes, as Liverpool hit back through Carvalho 10 minutes later.

Mahrez took the lead for City again 2 minutes after halftime, but Liverpool hit back for the second time, with Salah scoring just a minute later. Nathan Ake made sure City took the lead, and kept it this time, as he scored City’s third goal in the 58th minute, knocking Liverpool out.

After beating two top 6 teams, City were drawn away against bottom-of-the-table Southampton in the quarter-finals. It was one of City’s only moments of regret during the season, they were beaten in spectacular fashion.

A smash and grab from Mara and Djenepo gave Southampton a 2-0 lead, which City could not recover from. A surprise defeat for the title chasers knocked them out in the quarter-finals.

FA Cup

City were, again, drawn in the third round to play against Chelsea. This time, they ran riot. First-half goals from Mahrez, Alvarez and Foden effectively sealed City’s progression into the next round, as Mahrez added some gloss onto the score line, with a second-half penalty to make it 4-0.

Their reward, was another home game, this time against Chelsea’s London rivals, and Premier League leaders Arsenal. It was the first time these two teams had met this season, and the game itself was a tight nervy affair.

The game settled on one moment, and there was an unlikely hero. Nathan Ake found himself inside the box, as he curled one into the bottom corner, winning the game 1-0 for Man City, and sending them through to the fifth round.

An easier game awaited them, as they travelled to Championship side Bristol City. Foden stole the show as he netted himself a brace, with one goal in each half, before De Bruyne capped off a professional showing, giving City a 3-0, and a place in the quarter-final.

A familiar face returned to The Etihad as Vincent Kompany’s Burnley made the short trip down to face City. It was not a happy return, however, as Guardiola’s men ran riot on the Championship leaders.

A hattrick from Haaland, a brace from Alvarez, and a goal from academy product Cole Palmer gave Man City a 6-0, and an easy spot in the semi-finals.

For the third round in a row, City were drawn against a Championship side, this time, Sheffield United. Once again, City made short work of their lower-league opposition, with Mahrez being the hero this time. His hat trick set up an FA Cup final against Man United.

Derby day, cup final day, the nerves had settled, and the game got underway. It was not long before half of Manchester got to celebrate, as Gundogan scored in the first minute of the match to give City the lead.

City continued to push, but could not get that second goal to give them a comfortable advantage. They were made to pay, as Man United were awarded a penalty, which Fernandes duly dispatched.

In the second half, City and United both continued to push, but it was the blue side of Manchester left smiling. Gundogan became the hero once again, scoring his and City’s second goal of the game.

City were made to sweat late on, as United pushed for a late equaliser, but it was not meant to be, as City secured their first piece of silverware.

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Community Shield

Other than the Southampton game in the Carabao Cup, this is the only other game City will regret this season. They started their season with a Community Shield game against Liverpool at Wembley.

The buzz surrounding the game was massive. Nunez vs Haaland, Klopp vs Guardiola again. It was going to give fans a good taster of what to expect this season.

City did not start well and fell being to an Alexander-Arnold goal 21 minutes in. City was not performing well and was missing chance after chance, with Haaland guilty of a few misses himself.

They did haul themselves level, as new boy Alvarez equalised with 20 minutes to go. It did not matter in the end, however, as an 83rd-minute Salah penalty restored Liverpool’s lead, and Nunez won the battle, netting in the 94th minute.

Champions League

City was drawn to a potentially tricky Champions League group stage. They were drawn against Copenhagen, Sevilla, and Haaland’s former club, Dortmund. They opened their group stage with a 4-0 win away against Sevilla. Haaland scored either side of a Foden goal, and Dias made it 4 in second-half stoppage time.

City continued their strong start to the group with a 2-1 win at home against Dortmund. Jude Bellingham opened the scoring for the visitors just after halftime, but City hit back through two late goals from Stones and Haaland.

City then welcomed Copenhagen to The Etihad and made light work of them. Haaland scored a brace in the first half, and Khocholava scored an own goal to give City a 3-0 lead at halftime. A Mahrez penalty and an Alvarez goal finished the rout off, as City won 5-0.

City then travelled to Copenhagen and looked at a different team. Mahrez missed a 25th-minute penalty, and 5 minutes later, City were reduced to 10, and Sergio Gomez got sent off. City continued to dominate despite the numerical disadvantage, but neither side could get on the scoresheet as the teams drew 0-0.

A trip to Dortmund awaited City, as Mahrez missed a penalty for the second Champions League game in a row. Neither side could find the back of the net in the end, as City recorded back-to-back 0-0’s.

Their final group stage game, against Sevilla, started badly as Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the Spanish side just after the half-hour mark. City came back in the second half, as goals from Rico Lewis, Alvarez and Mahrez ensured City finished top of their group.

City faced RB Leipzig in the round of 16, as they travelled to Germany for the first leg. Mahrez opened the scoring within the first half-hour, but Leipzig hit back and equalised through Gvardiol in the second half, leaving the scores at 1-1 on aggregate.

In the second leg, City blew Leipzig away. Haaland hit 5 goals, as Gundogan and De Bruyne also got on the scoresheet, and City made light work of their opponents and convincingly secured a quarter-final spot.

City were up against German opposition again in the quarter-finals. They were drawn against Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern Munich. In the home leg, City won comfortably, as goals from Rodri, Silva and Haaland gave them a commanding lead.

In the second leg, Haaland missed a first-half penalty but then took the lead in the second half to essentially put City through. Kimmich scored a late penalty for Bayern Munich, but the damage had already been done.

A semi-final against Real Madrid awaited City. In the first leg, City dominated in the opening stages, but, against the run of play, Vinicius scored a rocket to give the Spanish side the lead. This did not deter City from playing their game, and they eventually found a way through, with De Bruyne equalising.

With the aggregate score at 1-1, it all rested on City’s home game. City were not fazed, or felt under pressure, as 2 first-half goals from Bernardo Silva gave the home side a commanding lead. Akanji and Alvarez finished the rout off, as City progressed 5-1 on aggregate, and set up a Champions League final against Inter Milan.

The final was a very nervy affair. Neither side wanted to go out attacking and get picked off on the counter. City were wasteful in possession, with the pressure getting to them. Key players messing up 4/5 yard passes, and De Bruyne got forced off due to injury.

Despite all this, City came through in the end. Rodri became a Manchester City legend and hero, as he scored the only goal of the game, winning City their first-ever Champions League trophy.

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Season Overall

City, obviously, has had a brilliant season. The players they brought in have worked wonders in their team. Haaland has broke record after record and has looked unstoppable at times. Akanji has become one of the, surprise, standout performers in the back line,

Rico Lewis has performed brilliantly when called upon, even when playing out of position. Gundogan stepped up during the back end of the season, scoring some crucial goals.

City will regret their performances in the Carabao Cup and Community Shield. They should not be losing a cup game against a team bottom of the table. It could have been yet another trophy to add to their haul this season, but they missed out.

City has now become only the second side to win a continental treble, and it will be very interesting to see how this side performs next season and to see what kind of players the club not only brings in but also lets go.

Overall, it has been an incredible season for them. To win the treble, their first Champions League, to stage a dramatic comeback to win the Premier League, it is typical Man City.

They are a joy to watch as always, their football is entertaining, and it is exciting watching them go forward. I cannot wait to see what they can do next season. This will be a team that goes down in history.

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