Manuel Pellegrini begins his third season at the helm of Manchester City with a new contract in the bag, and the summer’s most high profile signing, Raheem Sterling, in the locker-room. Just how £49 million man adapts to a new environment, and to the added pressure of the massive price-tag, and undoubted stick he is set to recieve on his first return to Anfield, is an intriguing sub-plot at the Etihad this season, while the continued fitness concerns of superstar Sergio Aguero is key to them pushing Chelsea closer this time around.
Tony Pulis meanwhile will be looking to build upon the Baggies 13th place finish last season, and the loan signing of Arsenal youngster Serge Gnabry, and permanent signings of Irish international James McClean and Liverpool flop Rickie Lambert, suggests a continuation of the “get it wide and whip in to the big man” approach that Pulis has made all but his trademark since getting Stoke to the Premier League, and keeping Crystal Palace up.
Ahead of tonight’s opener at the Hawthorns, fanfeud.co.uk have picked their five players to watch and to earn you cash
1. David Silva: The Spanish pocket-rocket remains one of the top creative talents in the League, and actually enjoyed his most productive season in 2014/2015 with a note-worthy twelve goals and twelve assists. Expected to pull the strings for Aguero and Sterling throughout the season.
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2. Raheem Sterling: Putting the questions marks as to whether he is over-priced aside, there is no doubting Sterling’s potential. He scored seven and assisted ten in a Liverpool shirt last season, despite being shifted into a couple of unfamiliar positions. Sterling should thrive in his natural wide posting at the Etihad and is tipped to hit the ground running after impressing in preseason for his new club.
3. Saido Berahino: The Baggies top-scorer last season with fourteen goals (although only one assist), the speed merchant should profit from any knock-downs from his new strike-partner Rickie Lambert. Given Vincent Kompany’s drop off in form last season, the Belgian could be in for a tough evening in the Hawthorns.
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4. James Chester: The new signing from Hull was a points machine in a struggling team over the last two campaigns, and provides an aerial threat from corners. While it’s often a worry signing a centre-half from a relegated side, Chester bucks that trend and will only improve in Pulis’ solid defensive set-up, not to mention adding a threat from set-pieces.
5.Wilfried Bony: very much the forgotten big money signing in January, the Ivorian boasts an impressive goal-scoring record since arriving in England two summers ago, and struck eleven goals last campaign. With Aguero not up to match fitness,and Dzeko out of favour and out the door to Roma, Bony is set to lead the line for City from the start of the season,and will want to keep his place.