Manchester City English Premier League title
Manchester City will look to repeat their 2013-14 English Premier League title success in the new seasonReuters

Keep the squad intact, add a few more (with, or without spending too much money) to plug in the final few remaining holes, and do what only Manchester United and Chelsea have done in the English Premier League era – defend the title.

Manchester City go into this new season with a familiar look about them in terms of playing personnel. All the usual suspects who helped City to the Premier League title last season are still there, and joining them are a few more wizened old faces and young upstarts desperate to prove themselves in the big league.

Bacary Sagna has been roped in from City's favourite club Arsenal on a free transfer, while Frank Lampard joins on loan after signing for the Manchester side's sister club New York City FC. While it will be odd for most Chelsea fans to see Lampard in a different shirt in the Premier League, the midfielder will fill a much needed position for his new club – that home-grown quota.

While the Financial Fair Play rules have quelled City's spending by quite a bit, it did not stop them from buying Eliaquim Mangala from FC Porto for a reported £32 million, with Fernando and Willy Caballero also coming in for £12 million and £6 million respectively.

Mangala is expected to be skipper Vincent Kompany's new partner in central defence, something that Martin Demichelis, after a nervous start, did admirably well last season. Fernando will add a bit more bite to central midfield, even if his performance in the Community Shield against Arsenal was a bit toothless, while also probably filling in for Yaya Toure (you know, if he decides to throw another tantrum again, maybe over another birthday cake).

Caballero has been brought in to challenge Joe Hart for the No.1 goalkeeper's spot, with many even tipping the former Malaga man to make the spot his own. While Hart was far from first choice at the start of last season, he did become the firm choice as the season wore on, and the England international will have to be at his best to stop Caballero from taking his place.

Sagna will also have a job at his hand to usurp Pablo Zabaleta from the right-back position; but with the amount of games that City are likely to play this season, there should be enough room for the two experienced defenders, with Pellegrini stressing on the importance of having two key players in each position.

Manuel Pellegrini did exceedingly well to take City to the title last season; not an easy feat to do in your first season, even with the ridiculously talented squad at his disposal.

For the Chilean, defending the title will prove to be more difficult. While City have strengthened wisely, the other challengers have not sat back quietly either. And this does promise to be as close a race for the title as we have seen in recent times, with several teams capable of going all the way and lifting that magical piece of silverware in May.

While the Community Shield drubbing at the hands of Arsenal should be taken with a pinch of salt, Pellegrini will also be aware of the need to keep his core players fit and ready, and the manager will look to his experienced heads -- Kompany, without whom City just do not look like a sound defensive unit, will need to be inspirational, as will Toure, whose goals in many ways catapulted City to the top spot last season. Sergio Aguero will hope for an injury-free campaign, and if the Argentine manages that, he should be there or thereabouts in the Premier League golden boot stakes.

Add David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho and City are the team to beat, the one that the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United will look to hunt down.

Also read