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Manchester City Premier League Preview: Midfielders

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Perhaps our strongest unit.

Yokohama F.Marinos v Manchester City - Preseason Friendly Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Welcome to the official Premier League preview!

The 2020/2021 season kicks off this weekend and while Manchester City won’t debut until the 21st of September, this week we will preview all four position groups. GK, defenders, midfielders and forwards. We will look at three areas, beginning with strengths and weaknesses. Then, move in to positional battles, to hopefully gain a holistic view at the squad as they enter Pep Guardiola’s fifth season in charge.

Catch up and read part one, Goal Keepers, HERE

Part two, defenders HERE

The Players

Ilkay Gundogan, Rodrigo, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and the Man City website actually lists Oleksandr Zinchenko in midfield.

Strengths

It is perhaps our unit with most depth. Gundogan and Rodrigo are truly good midfielders and can play both the ‘6’ and ’8’ positions with ease. Add a bombastic duo of KDB and Bernardo pulling strings in midfield and you have a rock solid midfield. Any combo of these four can do the job and it does help to have the Premier League’s best player.

Creativity is a strong suit here and with a young rising star in Foden they have it. Foden, like Bernardo can play winger and that versatility is what Pep Guardiola loves. Foden especially with his ball skills and vision nearing KDB levels is a real asset. Foden should push for starting spot and he’s good enough to win it.

Interestingly enough, Zinchenko might get a run at CM and he did well for the Ukraine there. Depth is much needed and Zinchenko can provide that. With a veteran like Fernandinho playing where he excels, he will join Zinchenko as a good depth player given his age and declining speed.

Weaknesses

It starts with Pep’s reliance to play two usually more conservative players in Rodrigo and Gundogan. That pair played a lot together towards the final stretch of the season and the results were mixed. If Pep expands and plays one true defensive midfielder and add KDB and Bernardo or Foden the club can really be strong.

Similarly, playing players where they want and are used to play should be better this season, as all are healthy. No more KDB as a winger or Bernardo unless necessary. Pep knows his team and should correct this.

Positional Battles

I do believe this season only one of Gundogan or Rodrigo will start initially. That makes way for two more creative outlets ahead of them. It will probably be De Bruyne and Bernardo. Foden’s recent disciplinary problems coupled with an inexperienced Zinchenko in midfield and they will have to earn a starting role and frankly playing time. Ferna will be either a spot starter in midfield or exclusively a CB, so the first four should compete for those three midfield spots.

Thoughts on the midfield?