The defending champions are lacking rhythm and their ambitions could suffer by the end of the 2021/22 season.

Manchester City are the reigning Premier League champions after winning the competition in 2020/21 with a margin of 12 points. The Cityzens face a stronger competition this year for their crown and retaining it is becoming tougher. The outfit has dropped quite a few points in the early stages of the league campaign and it is a troubling sign for their fans. Their summer business was rather unimpressive despite breaking several transfer records by recruiting Jack Grealish.

Pep Guardiola needs to sort out several issues in the squad and may need to use the January transfer window to add more quality. There are a few players who are misfiring and need to find their form. Their opponents within the league have strengthened their squads in hopes of becoming English champions.

Here are the five reasons which could result in Manchester City losing their title this season: 

5. Raheem Sterling’s dwindling form

Sterling’s form has been a worry for Manchester City (Courtesy: Eurosport)

Raheem Sterling has been struggling for form since the start of the 2021/22 season. Part of his inconsistent performance could be the fatigue from playing in the UEFA Euro 2020 for England. The previous campaign was a stretched out one for Sterling, reaching the finals of both the Champions League and the Euros. He has not looked as fresh this season and is lacking form. 

The Englishman has only started two games this season, losing his place in the starting lineup to Grealish. He has scored only one goal from seven appearances and looks low on confidence. He has fallen down the pecking order to the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden and could leave for more game time. Replacing Sterling’s 10 goals and seven assists in the league could be a headache and will make retaining the title tougher for Manchester City.

4. Tougher competition

The Premier League is one of the toughest league in the world for many reasons. The arrival of world class players every year makes the league exceedingly competitive. Teams in the lower rungs of the ladder have the capability of defeating any top team on any given day. Furthermore, teams like Manchester United and Chelsea have recruited well. The Red Devils have signed the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. They have a squad that is well-equipped to challenge for the title.

On the other hand, the Blues have a well-balanced squad. The defending European champions signed Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez, further strengthening an already strong squad. Apart from these two challengers, Manchester City will need to be cautious of Liverpool too. They did not sign any headline makers but have a strong squad with a tactical genius like Jurgen Klopp leading them. Fending off these teams in order to retain the title would be a tough task for Manchester City.

3. European ambitions

Manchester City came close to finally winning their first-ever UEFA Champions League title last season. They lost the final to Chelsea in a closely fought encounter. The owners of the club are desperate to translate the domestic dominance into European dominance. Pep Guardiola often needs to rotate his team, to be able to field a strong lineup for European nights. Delivering the Champions League trophy still remains his top priority at Manchester City.

Even though they have a star-studded squad, there will come a point where the manager must make the Champions League a priority over the Premier League. On such occasions, he would need to rest usual starters and rely on the squad players to secure three points in the Premier League. The priorities could clash, resulting in inconsistent performance in domestic competitions. Putting their focus on winning the Champions League could make their aim of retaining the league crown a tougher task.

2. Lack of consistency

Manchester City’s 2021/22 league campaign started with a defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day. Since then, the Cityzens have drawn two more games and won four out of a total seven matches. They are currently at the third position with 14 points out of seven fixtures. Dropping seven points at such an early stage of the season is not common for the club and the lack of inconsistency is apparent.

Their league form has to improve if they are to retain their crown this season. Their immediate rivals will most likely find more rhythm as the season moves forward and so they must too. The club must resolve multiple issues ranging from their squad, misfiring players and rotation to improve the results. Manchester City have drawn two of their last three games in the league which is quite surprising to say the least. The title race will certainly be closer than ever and the Premier League has the capability to surprise when someone least expects it. 

1. Absence of a world class striker

The gap left by Aguero is still not filled at Manchester City (Courtesy: Sky Sports)

Manchester City needed to recruit a striker in the summer transfer window after the departure of Sergio Aguero. Harry Kane was available for a move after the Englishman expressed his desire to play for a team that challenges for silverware. The Manchester-based club also seemed like the only outfit which had the resources to bring in Kane. However, City decided to splash £100m on Grealish, which was the club record transfer fee for a player. 

However, signing a striker was a bigger priority for Manchester City. They also missed out on signing Cristiano Ronaldo by a whisker who decided to join neighbours Manchester United at the last moment. Although Gabriel Jesus is a recognised striker in the team, he has not scored enough goals to warrant a regular place in the lineup. The lack of options up front could seriously affect their results. 

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