Manchester City can solely rely on goals from their wingers and midfielders in the absence of a true number nine in the Premier League this season, according to former striker Paul Dickov.

City regained their domestic crown last term, finishing 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League, while scoring 83 goals along the way, though just 13 of those came from recognised centre-forwards.

Gabriel Jesus scored nine goals, while Sergio Aguero – who has since joined Barcelona – contributed with just four having missed much of the campaign through injury.

Ilkay Gundogan top-scored with 13 goals in midfield, with winger Raheem Sterling notching 10 and Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez each netting on nine occasions as Ferran Torres added seven of his own.

Similarly this term, just two of City's 14 Premier League strikes have come courtesy of Brazil international Jesus – Torres has played in a forward role and scored twice but the Spaniard is not a true centre-forward.

Following Aguero's departure to Camp Nou, Tottenham striker Harry Kane was heavily linked with a move to City but a transfer did not materialise, while the likes of Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland have been linked.

Nevertheless, Scotsman Dickov is confident his former club have the credentials to cope without a main marksman once more.

"The answer at the minute is yes because we've seen that last season," Dickov, who spent two spells with City between 1996-2002 and 2006-2008, told Stats Perform. "I know Sergio Aguero was still at the club, but he missed the majority of it. 

"But Manchester City went on to win [the Premier League title] really quite easily playing without an actual number nine, and they've shown again this season that they can do it. 

"If Manchester City don't win the league this season, everybody's going to be saying it's because they've not got that number nine and the reliance has been on the midfielders and the false number nine to score the goals. But at the minute, you've got to say that they're not missing one.

"I think if Manchester City comes to January and they're still fighting for the top of league and still in the Champions League, people can say that Pep's been right again."

Dickov believes City's decision not to continue their pursuit of Kane demonstrates their own belief in the current quality of the squad.

"Knowing Manchester City as I do – as a club and as a board and how they do their transfers – they will identify players or a player and they will do what they can to get them," the 48-year-old added.

"They will not – especially over recent seasons – be held to ransom and pay over the odds. 

"I think when the new owners first came in, to get Manchester City onto a level they had to pay more money to get the players.

"But over the last few years, they now feel as though they don't have to. I think with the Harry Kane one, he was obviously the player that they wanted.

"If they didn't get him, they weren't going to settle for second best because they believe that the players within the squad – after what happened last season and the addition of Jack Grealish – were good enough to take them to the next level, and for them to retain the title this year."

Jack Grealish has made an impressive start as he adapts to life at Manchester City, according to the club's former striker Paul Dickov.

Ex-Aston Villa star Grealish signed for a British record £100million fee ahead of the 2021-22 season, bolstering an impressive group of playmakers in Pep Guardiola's squad.

Dickov believes the attacking midfielder has been given a run of games so that he learns the differences of playing at City, where he will not be the "main man" as he was with Villa.

And he has been happy with the England international's start at the club, with Grealish scoring twice and adding two assists across 10 appearances in all competitions.

Dickov told Stats Perform: "No disrespect to Aston Villa, but there's a lot more quality in the squad at Manchester City and they play a different way. 

"When Jack was at Aston Villa last season and the season before, he was the main man all the time. 

"When Aston Villa players got the ball and they wanted to attack they gave the ball to Jack Grealish, and he was the main man. 

"At Manchester City the ball goes to Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. So Jack's had to adapt his game and also without the ball. 

"At Aston Villa he didn't necessarily have to defend, he could afford to be that player that could just win them the game without doing much without the ball.

"Whereas we all know that Pep Guardiola demands the players to work hard without the ball. 

"So I think the fact that he started every game was a process of bedding him in to how Manchester City play and letting him know what it takes to be part of a Pep team. 

"And I think he's done really well and it has been interesting as well that he's started every single game.

"When you have the likes of Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus — Pep seems to rotate that front three a lot." 

Dickov added: "The last couple of games and Liverpool especially he looked a little bit tired. 

"He's one of the only one of the front three players that started every game, and especially it was on the back of a massive week against Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool. 

"But I think he's been outstanding and I'm a massive fan of Jack Grealish."

City are two points behind leaders Chelsea after seven Premier League matches, having drawn 2-2 with Liverpool in that Anfield thriller on Sunday.

They conceded more goals in that game than in their previous seven league outings combined beforehand (one).

City also faced four shots on target against Liverpool, only two fewer than they had in their six other Premier League matches combined this season.

Grealish is now with the England squad and, having played 762 minutes of club football this season, only Declan Rice and Conor Coady have had a higher workload than him among outfield players in the squad.

Phil Foden is going to be "up there with the best in the world", according to former Manchester City striker Paul Dickov.

Foden has endured a stuttering start to the new term – playing just 195 Premier League minutes – due to a foot injury but impressed as he scored against Liverpool in Sunday's 2-2 draw.

Having scored in the previous two games against Jurgen Klopp's side, Foden's equaliser made him the youngest player (21 years and 128 days) to score in three consecutive top-flight appearances against Liverpool since Romelu Lukaku in November 2013 (20y 194d).

And Dickov, who was speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, used Foden's performance at Anfield as an example of why he could become the best in the world.

"People keep talking about [Foden] being the next big thing and one for the future," Dickov said.

"He is one for now he is already putting himself in the bracket of one of the best players in England, in Europe and is only going to get better.

"He is like a school kid in the playground that just wants to play football all the time. In that little bit, with his ability, with the talent that he's got with, a huge heart and his attitude.

"He is going to be up there with the very, very best in the world because he's, he's got absolutely everything, and he showed that yesterday [on Sunday against Liverpool]."

Foden, who was named as the PFA's Young Player of the Year last term, ranks third among City midfielders for chances created per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term (2.31).

He also sits second among the club's midfield ranks for Opta-defined 'big chances', creating 0.46 per 90 minutes, with only Kevin de Bruyne (0.87) bettering that total.

Indeed, the 21-year-old started ahead of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez at Anfield but Dickov thinks Foden can continue to learn from Pep Guardiola's wealth of midfield talent.

"He can score goals and, the scary thing is, he's only going to get better than that the more games that he plays," Dickov continued.

"Being surrounded by players like Kevin De Bruyne and the fantastic players that Manchester City have got, that’s going to take his game to the next level.

"Phil wants to be there and he really wants to be the best in training, he wants to be the best player all the time.

"When you’re in an environment like Manchester City have got, where people are striving to win things all the time, it's only going to make him better and better.

"When you think how good he is now I think in three or four years it's going to be really scary about how good he can be. I just think he's got everything you want and that to be a top-class footballer."

Manchester City are the favourites to win the Premier League this year, according to former striker Paul Dickov.

Pep Guardiola's defending champions started off the new term with a 1-0 loss away at Tottenham but have embarked on a six-game unbeaten run to leave them third — two points behind leaders Chelsea.

City beat Thomas Tuchel's side 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last Saturday before battling for a well-deserved point against fellow title contenders Liverpool in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Anfield.

The latter result saw Liverpool extend their unbeaten run to 17 games but Dickov sees his former club's recent run of form as proof that they are the team to beat.

"Yeah, I think they have to be," Dickov responded to Stats Perform when asked if City were favourites to win the league.

"I think if you look at the week that they've just had you know there's probably three of the toughest away games in one week that is against three of the best teams in Europe — Chelsea, PSG and then Liverpool.

"The record has not always been great for Manchester City so for me, I look at the strength and depth in the Manchester City squad and that just edges it for me for them to be the favourites."

City conceded more goals against Jurgen Klopp's side (two) than in their previous seven top-flight games combined beforehand, but the draw means Liverpool have only managed to beat City on one of the last seven occasions in the Premier League.

Guardiola's team may have, perhaps understandably, felt hard done by to leave Anfield without all three points, but Dickov sees City's squad as the reason they will retain their title this campaign.

"I think the quality they've got in the squad, for me over the course of a very long, hard season in England, that's the thing that stands out for me," he continued.

"We look at the team [on Sunday] and they had Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez sitting on the bench.

"[There is] Ferran Torres or Ilkay Gudogan, who was possibly Manchester City's best player last season, coming back from injury.  [They have] Fernandinho, John Stones, I could just go on and on.

"That squad, that for me is the thing that's going to make the big difference over the course of the season because I don't feel the other teams are quite like that."

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