After an inconsistent preseason, the season has finally began for Manchester City. Now is the time to begin the surge for the title. With the exits of James Milner, Matija Nastasic, Frank Lampard, Stevan Jovetić, Alvaro Negredo and the imminent departure of Edin Dzeko and the additions of Jason Denayer, Enes Unal, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph, it is clear that a new stage is underway at Manchester City. Out of the four new additions, Raheem Sterling has arguably been the best performer in preseason, having scored 3 goals in 4 matches. At the moment, it is looking like the £44 million plus add-ons paid for Sterling is paying off, but that can only be fully observed after a full season at the club.
With Agüero, Demichelis, Fernandinho and Pablo Zabaleta absent of the preseason tour due to playing in the Copa America, it is unlikely to see the four men to start against West Brom. They will most likely play as second half substitutes to give them some minutes to recover match day fitness. In addition, Fabian Delph's injury picked up against Real Madrid in Melbourne will tighten Pellegrini's selection for a starting XI. With all of these injuries and fitness concerns, it seems highly likely that Pellegrini will have a youthful bench featuring the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho and Bruno Zuculini.
Given that the first match is on the road at The Hawthorns, it will be curious to note if City have sorted out their road woes in the preseason, which saw City drop as far as fourth last season, before finishing in second. With the additions of Sterling and the good form of David Silva up front, the firepower could be available for a victory. If the back four can hold their line well, City could be looking at a potential clean sheet.
Predicted starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hart, Kompany, Mangala, Sagna, Kolarov, Toure, Fernando, Sterling, Silva, Navas, Bony