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Previewing Manchester City’s 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off

Manchester City achieved an unprecedented treble in 2022-23, claiming their third consecutive Premier League title, ending their FA Cup drought since 2019, and securing a momentous UEFA Champions League victory. Now, with the footballing world eager to dethrone the reigning champions, we can’t help but wonder about the challenges and possibilities that await Pep Guardiola’s formidable squad in the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Manchester City Image via Manchester City Official Twitter 2 Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Manchester City, Image via Manchester City Official Twitter

Read More: Manchester City Transfer News: Latest Updates About the Signings Ahead of the 2023-24 Season

Will Manchester City Claim Four Consecutive English Top-Flight titles?

Pep Guardiola has a historic opportunity to secure a fourth consecutive English top-flight title with Manchester City. Since joining in 2016, City has won the league five times in seven seasons, amassing a staggering 625 points, 50 more than any other club.

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With just three more wins needed, Guardiola could join an elite group of managers with 200 victories in charge of a single Premier League club, trailing only Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger. Already holding the record for the highest win ratio (74.1%) and points per game (2.35) among permanent Premier League managers, Guardiola’s dominance is unquestionable.

Considering his incredible track record, it’s hard to bet against him clinching a fourth consecutive Premier League title for both himself and Manchester City.

Winning Three Top Flight English Titles in a Row Image via Opta Analyst 1 Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Winning Three Top Flight English Titles in a Row, Image via Opta Analyst

Could Erling Haaland Shatter More Records in the 2023-24 Season?

In his debut season at Manchester City, Erling Haaland made a thunderous impact, breaking the Premier League’s single-season record with an astounding 36 goals and tallying 52 competitive goals, surpassing any other player in a Premier League club’s history.

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However, what’s truly remarkable is that Haaland’s goal-scoring exploits seemed to taper off towards the season’s end. In his final eight appearances in 2022-23, the Norwegian only managed to score once and surprisingly went goalless in his last five matches. Moreover, there was a stretch between January and early March where he struggled to find the back of the net in nine out of 13 competitive games, netting just six times.

Despite smashing multiple records, the lingering feeling remains that Haaland, the goal machine, could have achieved even greater heights. The prospect of him breaking more records in the upcoming 2023-24 season is both exciting and fearsome for opposing teams.

Erling Haaland has broken the Single Season Goal Scoring Record for a Premier League Club Image via Opta Analyst Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Erling Haaland has broken the Single-Season Goal Scoring Record for a Premier League Club, Image via Opta Analyst

Erling Haaland’s goal-scoring prowess leaves little doubt, and with an injury-free season, he might even reach an incredible milestone of 40 league goals. Achieving this would place him among an elite group of just eight players in English top-flight history to achieve such a feat, with Jimmy Greaves being the most recent player to do so in 1960-61.

While surpassing Dixie Dean’s all-time top-flight record of 60 goals in a single season seems improbable, Haaland has a realistic chance to challenge Dean’s overall tally of 63 goals across all competitions in a season, as he fell just 11 goals short last season.

Moreover, Haaland has the potential to rewrite the record books in the Premier League. Only Alan Shearer has reached the 30-goal mark in successive Premier League seasons (1993-94, 1994-95, and 1995-96), but Shearer accomplished this during 42-game campaigns. Haaland, with his blistering pace, has a shot at becoming the fastest player to reach 50 Premier League goals, currently held by Andrew Cole at 65 appearances. With just 14 goals needed and having played only 35 games, he could even surpass Cole’s record with a goal every two games over his next 30 appearances.

With Erling Haaland’s goal-scoring prowess and ambition, the 2023-24 season promises to be a thrilling one, filled with the excitement of witnessing a potential record-breaking performance on the field.

Impact of Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez Exits – How Significant is the Blow?

Towards the end of the season, Erling Haaland’s goal-scoring slowed down, but Ilkay Gündogan stepped up with six crucial goals in May and June. As the captain, he lifted his fifth Premier League trophy in seven seasons with Manchester City before departing to Barcelona on a free transfer.

Another significant departure is Riyad Mahrez, who had an impressive 2022-23 season, contributing 15 goals and 13 assists across all competitions. Only Kevin De Bruyne and Haaland were involved in more goals. Over his City career, Mahrez was involved in 134 goals, showcasing his impact and efficiency on the field.

Experience played a role in Manchester City’s success, evident in their Premier League victory over Arsenal, where the Gunners’ lack of it was a point of criticism in their attempt to challenge City’s dominance.

Most Appearances in the Top 5 European Leagues for Manchester City in the 2022 23 Season Image via Opta Analyst Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Most Appearances in the Top 5 European Leagues for Manchester City in the 2022-23 Season, Image via Opta Analyst

The departures of Gündogan (340 apps) and Mahrez (284) have cost Manchester City a significant amount of top five league experience, totaling 624 games. These players were among the top five most experienced members of the 2022-23 squad in such games. If Kyle Walker, who is rumored to be linked strongly to Bayern Munich, also leaves, City would lose another player with 363 games of experience in Europe’s top leagues – the most among City players from last season. Their exits would undoubtedly be a major loss in terms of seasoned players with vast experience at the top level.

Is 2023-24 the Season Argentine World Cup Winner Julian Alvarez Becomes a Star?

Julian Alvarez’s debut full season at Manchester City was nothing short of remarkable. He played a crucial role in the historic treble-winning side, contributing with 17 goals, making him City’s second-highest scorer across all competitions in the 2022-23 campaign. Impressively, his achievements extended beyond the club level, as he played an integral part in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup victory in December.

At the age of 23, Alvarez is no longer seen as a young prodigy and is determined to establish himself as a footballing star. With his talent and track record, all eyes will be on him as he strives for even greater success in the upcoming season, both at the club and international levels.

Julian Alvarez Goals Across All Competitions in 2022 23 Image via Opta Analyst Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Julian Alvarez Goals Across All Competitions in 2022-23, Image via Opta Analyst

Despite his undeniable impact on the pitch, Julián Álvarez often found himself as Pep Guardiola’s preferred substitute at Manchester City last season, accumulating 2,525 minutes of competitive action, lower than 14 of his teammates. He made 26 appearances as a substitute, more than any other player in the squad.

With the departures of Gündoğan and Mahrez, Álvarez is eager for increased playing time in the upcoming season. His impressive record of scoring a non-penalty goal every 168 minutes in competitive matches during the 2022-23 season outshines Mahrez’s records across any of his five campaigns as a City player, which bodes well for Álvarez’s future.

Having had a season to adjust to Guardiola’s tactics, Álvarez now enters his second season at the club with the ambition to emerge as a star, much like Jack Grealish did in the previous campaign. With his undeniable talent and determination, Álvarez aims to make his mark and solidify his status as a key player for Manchester City.

Can Man City’s Title Challenge Handle an Injury Crisis Effectively?

Manchester City seemed to be fortunate in terms of avoiding injuries during the 2022-23 season. Data from Premier Injuries shows that City players missed a total of 447 days due to injuries, which was the lowest among all Premier League teams. Additionally, they missed only 62 games overall, again the lowest number for any club.

Comparing this to Chelsea’s unfortunate campaign, where they suffered injuries that resulted in a staggering 1,836 days and 216 games missed, it’s clear that Manchester City enjoyed a stroke of luck in terms of injury management.

Throughout the season, there were only four instances when a Manchester City player was sidelined for more than a month due to injury: Kalvin Phillips (68 days), Kyle Walker (50), Ruben Dias (40), and Nathan Aké (36). These numbers showcase City’s ability to keep key players fit and on the field, which undoubtedly contributed to their successful treble-winning campaign.

Squad Age Profile of Manchester City 2022 23 Squad Image via Opta Analyst Previewing Manchester City's 2023-24 Season: 5 Crucial Questions to Consider Before the Campaign Kicks Off
Squad Age Profile of Manchester City 2022-23 Squad, Image via Opta Analyst

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City enjoyed the advantage of fielding one of the most settled squads in the 2022-23 season. With just 24 players used, they led the league in terms of continuity. Guardiola adeptly rotated his players, preventing overworking and fatigue within the squad. Although he made 106 changes to the starting XI throughout the campaign, which ranked behind injury-stricken Chelsea and Liverpool, only two outfield players, Erling Haaland (2,776 minutes) and Rodri (2,920 minutes), played over 75% of the possible Premier League minutes.

In contrast, title challengers Arsenal had six players who logged at least 75% of the Premier League minutes, which likely contributed to their late-season decline due to tired legs. The ability to manage player minutes effectively and avoid prolonged injuries played a significant role in Manchester City’s triumphant run.

Looking ahead to the 2023-24 season, the question arises: can City maintain the same clean bill of health? If crucial players such as Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, or Rodri were to face lengthy injuries, the smaller squad might face challenges in sustaining the impressive levels demonstrated in the previous season. Only time will reveal whether they can replicate their good fortune and keep their key players fit, making it a critical factor to watch as the new season unfolds.

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