Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City were touted by many as favourites to run away with this season's Premier League crown.
Seven games into the current season however, coupled with two games in the UEFA Champions League, City have really given their supporters a mixed bag of results.
Even though Pellegrini possesses a wealth of options in all positions at the Etihad, here's my pick of the players who should make the starting XI, on the basis of their performances so far this season:
City's No.1 Joe Hart has looked extremely out of sorts this season, but I would still pick him to start in goal for The Citizens. We all know how Hart is undoubtedly a world class shot stopper, and not many would argue that given some time, he'll be back to his best.
Also, replacement keeper Costel Pantilimon is not a sure shot clean-sheet machine in between the sticks, so I believe Pellegrini would want to place his faith in Hart, at least for a little while longer.
Pablo Zabaleta has made the right back position his own this season. The Argentine has been one of City's consistent performers this season, and adds an attacking dimension to their game as well.
The alternative Micah Richards was on display against Bayern Munich, but quite frankly was run ragged by Franck Ribery, and still needs game time to get back to his pre-injury form.
City's skipper Vincent Kompany has to figure Pellegrini's starting XI. Even though he has picked up a few knocks which have caused him to sit out a number of games, when fit, the big Belgian's presence is key to City's success.
Also, his performance against Manchester United was reminiscent of the season City were crowned Champions, and if Kompany can stay fit, one can expect a lot more clean sheets for the Sky Blues.
The other position at Centre Back is a choice between Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott. I believe that twenty year old Nastasic would make for a better option, what with his greater pace, and the sheer potential of the youth.
Given more playing time, he can surely mature to become on e of the top defenders in the League. Still, there's always Martin Demichelis waiting in the wings, and in case the situation demands him to step up, he is more than capable.
Serbian Aleksandar Kolarov has been Pellegrini's first choice left back so far this season. Kolarov's left foot packs an almighty punch, and his wicked crosses into the box have been a menace for oppostion defences all season long. Gael Clichy will have to raise his game substantially to have a sniff at the starting XI from now on.
Yaya Toure and Fernandinho have looked good working in tandem this season. In fact, the more they've played together, the stronger this powerful partnership has gotten. Toure has looked his ominous self throughout, with four goals in the League and one on the opening European night.
Fernandinho looks to be the more defensive of the pair, and doesn't look far from regaining the form he showed on such a regular basis at Shakhtar Donetsk. This midfield duo is undoubtedly going to be Pellegrini's first choice this season.
Spaniard Jesus Navas has looked bright so far this season. Even though the ex-Sevilla man has not been the most consistent performer, he has shown sparks of great potential.
This aside, City don't real have any out and out wingers aside from Navas, and his explosions of pace are certainly something to worry the opposition, providing the team with another attacking dimension.
With aerial threats such as Alvaro Negredo and Eden Dzeko in the side, a winger willing to whip in crosses from out wide will only add to City's attacking threat.
After spending a large portion of the Mancini era on the bench, Samir Nasri is finally getting a good run of starts under Pellegrini.
There was never any doubting the Frenchman's quality, and now with the adequate game time, he has been able to contribute with goals and assists alike.
David Silva's injury has played a big role in Nasri getting his chance, but he has certainly grabbed it with both hands and is looking more and more like the star he was at Arsenal a few seasons ago.
This one comes as no surprise. City's Sergio Aguero has been in red hot form this season, and even with City's many attacking options, it still seems like when fit, the little Argentine will get a start. Showing a great goal return and good work-rate, there are not many that Aguero has failed to impress this season, a sure starter for City.
This was again a choice between two players, and while it was close, Alvaro Negredo gets the nod over Edin Dzeko. The Spaniard has looked really good so far, given that it is his first season in England, holding up play, running the channels, scoring and even assisting goals for the club. Aside from that, his strength and physique make him a bully in the box, a real aerial threat from set pieces.
This is the XI which has impressed most for City this season, but with options like David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and James Milner on the bench, the sheer heights this club can reach this season are for all to behold.
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