EPL top four review: Where do Manchester City need to strengthen?


EPL top four review: Where do Liverpool need to strengthen?

With the international break well under way, now is the perfect time to touch base and assess how the top teams across the Premier League have performed in the opening twelve games and just where they may need to strengthen ahead of the January transfer window.

Manchester City sit in top spot having failed to put a foot wrong so far this season, showing their usual fluency in attack in tandem with a strong defensive unit. Their emphatic win in the Manchester Derby highlighted the strength of Pep Guardiola’s side, who managed over 40 passes between themselves before Ilkay Gundogan delicately prodded in from close range to earn the bragging rights. Following closely behind are Liverpool and Chelsea, both of whom have also made unbeaten starts to their respective seasons.

Despite failing to show the attacking prowess and fast transition that made them so exhilarating to watch in 2017/18, Jurgen Klopp’s side have adopted a more pragmatic approach, and displayed the traits of title contenders. Gone are the days of a shaky back-four that looked capable of shooting themselves in the foot even from thoroughly advantageous scorelines. In their place, a regimented defence marshalled by the authority and dominance of Virgil van Dijk, who has brought the best out of his teammates, shipping a measly five goals in the league compared to the seventeen conceded at this stage last season.

Chelsea deserve enormous credit for the way in which they’ve adapted to life under Maurizio Sarri and are the only English side to be unbeaten in all competitions at this stage. The Blues have regained their mojo under new management, with Eden Hazard taking up his usual position as the talisman figure to put them into contention for the title.

Under the radar slightly have been Spurs, who have bagged nine wins so far to put themselves three points ahead of rivals Arsenal. Although not considered to be a genuine threat for the title, Pochettino has once again made a good start despite limited resources.

So, where do the top-four teams need to strengthen on the evidence provided by the opening twelve games of the campaign? Let’s start with the side who seem to need the least; table toppers Manchester City.

Manchester City – Mendy absence needing mended?

It’s hard to know where a team who have displayed such consistent class could, or should, strengthen in the months ahead. They look more than equipped in attack, having dealt easily without talisman Kevin De Bruyne such is depth of options Guardiola has at his disposal. However, in a defensive sense there could be a few avenues to explore in order to ensure the Champions don’t lose momentum if injuries mount.

Benjamin Mendy’s recent injury in the Manchester Derby required him to undergo surgery on his knee, meaning he will likely be out for the foreseeable future.

Bringing in someone to fill the void is something that the manager could explore, given Mendy’s importance in the final third as well as his diligence in defending. Likewise, a move for another goalkeeper could be explored in January. Claudio Bravo has been ruled out for the majority of the season, leaving Arijanet Muric as understudy to Ederson.

Should the No.1 pick up an injury, City could find themselves in a spot of bother during the run in.

That apart, Pep Guardiola has the luxury of pondering how he might replace any player who might want to leave at the end of the season and plan how he will  retain the title.

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