Manchester City have won four Premier League titles in the last five years but they are far from nailed-on to lift the trophy again in May 2023.
City needed to record the sixth-highest EPL points tally of all time to pip Liverpool by a margin of just one point last season.
It is likely that City will have to be at a similar level this season, which means they cannot afford to blink.
We think that they will blink just enough for Liverpool to pounce.
Predicted Final EPL Position: 2nd
City In Transition
City have made a big change in attack. Out went their two squad members with the most goals for the club and in came one of the most prolific strikers in Europe.
But replacing Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus - who scored 226 goals between them during the course of their City careers - with Erling Haaland represents more than just a personnel change.
Sterling and Jesus were compliant cogs in City's winning machine. They both got involved in Pep Guardiola's tiki-taka style of play, while fully subscribing to the concept of defending from the front with relentless pressing.
Haaland is better at scoring goals than both Sterling and Jesus, hence why he has netted over 150 times at club level by the age of 22.
But the fear is that he could be like Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United last season - topping the scoring charts but at the expense of the team's tactical balance.
The Norwegian goal-machine is not programmed to press or take part in patient link-up play. He is not a player who naturally fits the mould created by Guardiola.
Therefore, either Haaland or Guardiola will have to change. And change takes time.
Haaland is too talented not to succeed at City. But if it takes them a while to gel, Liverpool may be able to build a head start strong enough to turn the EPL red.
Star Man: Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the best Premier League playmaker of all time.
But last season saw him score more goals (15) than he assisted (8) in the EPL for the first time in his City career.
De Bruyne was often deployed in a false-nine role last season but Haaland's arrival should see the Belgian permanently restored to his natural habitat in central midfield.
Now that City have a world-class specialist finisher to put away the chances created, De Bruyne could well threaten the EPL assists record of 20 in a season, which he currently shares with Thierry Henry.
One To Watch: Julian Alvarez
Haaland is not the only 22-year-old goal-getter to arrive at the Etihad Stadium this summer.
Watch out for Argentina international Julian Alvarez, who scored on his debut in the Community Shield.
Alvarez signed for City in January but was loaned back to River Plate until July.
He may not be a regular starter in his first season but expect him to make a big impact off the bench.
Alvarez scored more than 50 goals for former club River, including SIX in an 8-1 win over Alianza Lima in the Copa Libertadores in May.
Summer Transfer Business
- Erling Haaland from Dortmund
- Stefan Ortega from Arminia Bielefeld
- Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United
- Raheem Sterling to Chelsea
- Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal
- Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal
- Gavin Bazunu to Southampton
- Fernandinho to Athletico Paranaense
- Arijanet Muric to Burnley
- Jayden Braaf to Dortmund
- Kwaku Oduroh to Derby
- CJ Egan-Riley to Burnley
- Darko Gyabi to Leeds
- Romeo Lavia to Southampton
Man City 2-1 Club America
Bayern 0-1 Man City
Liverpool 3-1 Man City (Community Shield)
Opening Six EPL Fixtures
- West Ham United (a)
- Bournemouth (h)
- Newcastle United (a)
- Crystal Palace (h)
- Nottingham Forest (h)
- Aston Villa (a)