Manchester City begin their defence of the Premier League title with a tricky trip to the capital to face West Ham United on Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola has a 75% success rate in retaining top flight titles across his honour-riddled managerial career, scrawling his club’s name back on trophy six times out of a possible eight.
Here’s the XI Guardiola may deploy to start the charge for yet more domestic prizes.
Ederson (GK) – City’s sweeper-keeper is famed for his role in the team’s short passing game but set the Guinness World Record for the longest drop-kick in 2018.
Kyle Walker (RB) – In order to maintain his position as a first-choice fullback for the reigning champions at 32, Walker admits he has had to change his approach off the pitch “one million per cent” compared to his first days as a professional.
Ruben Dias (CB) – Described by Guardiola as “untouchable” in the past, Dias racked up a career-high four assists last season.
Nathan Ake (CB) – In the continued absence of Aymeric Laporte, Ake is poised to provide the left-footed passing angles which grease the wheels of City’s build-up play.
Joao Cancelo (LB) – Following the departure of Oleksandr ZInchenko and the lack of imminent replacement, Guardiola has been left with few options at full-back.
Rodri (CM) – The ballast at the base of midfield scored the equalising goal as City came from behind on the final day of last season against Aston Villa, to win the title. Or did he? According to Rodri, Guardiola told him “that the fans had scored mine”.
Julian Alvarez (RW) – On the undercard of Erling Haaland’s heavyweight debut against Liverpool last weekend, Alvarez poked in his first goal for the club, starting sharply after half a season of competitive football with River Plate.
Kevin De Bruyne (AM) – The only player at the club to have experienced football at Manchester City pre-Pep.
Phil Foden (LW) – Despite facing them six times (winning five matches and getting a goal in a draw), Foden has never started a Premier League game against West Ham, oddly.
Erling Haaland (ST) – In case you missed it, Haaland didn’t score on his Community Shield debut. But the self-confident 22-year-old took it in his stride, channelling his inner yoga instructor when he reflected: “It’s all about trying to enjoy, live in the moment.”