This season: The reigning champions are already playing catch up with Chelsea and are struggling in the Champions League big time. City barely managed to beat WBA last month and drew against Arsenal, Liverpool and Stoke – games Mancini would have expected maximum points from. Apart from the Sunderland victory (3-0) on October 6, City’s defence has also shipped goals left, right and centre and haven’t kept any more clean sheets. They look vulnerable when under-pressure – something I hope the boys in claret and blue can do at Upton Park.
Last season: Quite impressive. Wrestling the title away from cross-city neighbours United, on goal difference, in the dying seconds of the final match was hugely satisfying for Roberto Mancini and his men.
Expectations: Nothing less than back-to-back titles will be acceptable for City’s owners, while Champions League progression will also be on the agenda.
New arrivals: Everton’s Jack Rodwell was the first man in the door in what has been a quiet summer for City. The 21-year-old may not be the marquee signing City fans were hoping for, but could prove to be a welcome addition.
Tactics: There is unlikely to be much change from the formation City used last season, but they have been experimenting with three at the back in pre-season and could spring a surprise.
Star Player: Sergio Aguero had a blistering debut Fantasy League campaign. He scored 23 goals in 32 games. Roberto Mancini’s man are under pressure to defend their title Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore takes a look at the reigning Premier League champions and outlines what we can expect to see at Upton Park
Stalwart: Goalkeeper Joe Hart has quickly become one of the most dependable figures in English football. The 25-year-old had 17 clean sheets in 38 games last season.
One to Watch: David Silva’s 17 assists were more than any other player in the league last season, and also had two goals and three assists in Spain’s successful Euro 2012 campaign.
Possible XI: Hart Zabaleta Kompany Lescott Clichy Nasri Y Toure Barry Silva Tevez Aguero 2011/12 statistics: Top goalscorer: Sergio Aguero (23) Most assists: David Silva (17) Av. shots per game: 18.45 Clean sheets: 17 Av. goals conceded per game: 0.76