Man City face first test of their Premier League title defence

In some ways, Manchester City strolled to the Premier League title last season. They might have had Liverpool keeping pace with them for the majority of the way, but nonetheless Pep Guardiola’s team still went much of the season unchallenged by the rest of the English top flight.

By doing this, City managed to retain a Premier League title for the first time and now there are signs that what Guardiola has built could become a dynasty. The 2019/20 Premier League season started last week and there’s no suggestion that City won’t be the frontrunners to win a third-straight title.

Only Liverpool and possibly Tottenham Hotspur can challenge Guardiola’s defending champions. We will find out more about Spurs this weekend when Mauricio Pochettino’s team travel north to take on Man City at the Etihad Stadium. It’s the first marquee, top-of-the-table clash and do a lot to determine the title race for the season ahead.

However, we will also learn a lot about City and whether they can be potentially caught. Spurs have made progress over the summer, signing Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso to significantly strengthen what was already a strong squad. Pochettino led his team to the Champions League final last season, but he wants even more this season.

City were mightily impressive in the opening Premier League fixture of the season, putting five past West Ham away from home. This will be more of a test, though. Spurs aren’t just a strong team, but a group of players with the golden carrot of a piece of silverware still in front of their nose, leading them on. They are a motivated bunch.

There is a certain pressure that comes with being the chased. Man City, as the two-time defending Premier League champions, now play every week with a target on their back. Opposition sides up their game to take on Guardiola’s men and this will certainly be the case when Spurs come to visit this weekend.

What’s more, this is a side that caused City problems at the Etihad as recently as April, when Spurs knocked out the Premier League leaders on their way into the final four of the Champions League. Guardiola and his players cannot afford to take their challenge lightly. We will learn more about the dynamic between the two teams after Saturday.

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