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50-50 Challenge: Real vs. Atletico

Preview 7 days ago
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50-50 Challenge: Arsenal vs. Man City

Preview Sep 11, 2014
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Aug 6, 2014

Five surprising Man City signings

The ESPN FC panel analyse Manchester City's chances of winning the Premier League again this season.

It had been perhaps one of the most half-expected transfer moves of the summer, but Manchester City eventually confirmed that Frank Lampard would be joining them on a half-season loan. That keeps him training and fully fit until the start of his new contract with New York City FC -- a franchise partly-owned by the Blues and one that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger isn't too happy about.

- Report: Lampard may play 1,000th game at City
- Report: Nasri talks Lampard impact
- Curtis: Lampard's marriage of convenience

While the former Chelsea midfielder may not get much first-team time with his new (temporary) club before his move stateside, the Arsenal boss seems to worry the deal is a way to skip past Financial Fair Play regulations. In truth, Lampard will probably make one or two fleeting appearances for the club, in a midfield already packed with competition for places.

Lampard isn't joining the Blues on a free transfer, but it did bring up the question of some of the more surprising or left-field Bosmans that have arrived at either the Etihad or Maine Road. Here are five of the best:

Ali Benarbia

Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2000-01, the Blues had a turbulent start to the 2001-02 Division One campaign. Form was up and down and new manager Kevin Keegan's patience was wearing thin; in fact, he commented that after a heavy early-season defeat to West Brom some players "proved they didn't merit" the clean slate they'd been given.

To address the problems, he snapped up Ali Benarbia from Paris Saint-Germain. The fans didn't know what to expect from the little Algerian, but within 20 minutes of his debut he had pretty much sealed his status as a cult hero. His touch, vision, and skill was near-perfect and the only drawback was his age, signing as he did at 33 years old.

Peter Reid

Howard Kendall snapped up Peter Reid from QPR, but it wasn't long after the midfielder had joined the Blues that the manager departed for Everton. Reid was given the job as player-manager and produced some exciting and, at times, enthralling football. Largely, he was a success at Maine Road, but he faced problems behind the scenes as the early-to-mid-90s problems began.

The appointment of John Maddock as general manager spelled doom for the gaffer, whose 1993-94 season lasted just four games (three defeats and a draw). The Blues had dipped in Reid's final season -- dropping to ninth in the league from two solid fifth placed finishes -- but he was never given the time or backing to build on what he had achieved, meaning there was a feeling the Blues had missed the chance to become a powerhouse in English football.

He did, however, become the last City manager to finish above Manchester United before Roberto Mancini won the title in 2011-12.

Patrick Vieira

In early January 2010, Mancini made his first signing after replacing Mark Hughes as City manager. The Blues' season had been close to falling apart, following a run of seven draws that had left the club slipping away from its target of Champions League football and, despite having cash to spend, the Italian brought in someone he knew he could trust.

Patrick Vieira's poise and leadership helped guide Manchester City to the 2011 FA Cup title.
Patrick Vieira's poise and leadership helped guide Manchester City to the 2011 FA Cup title.

Patrick Vieira might not have had an immediate impact, but his experience was vital in the 2010-11 season when he won his fifth FA Cup -- helping City overcome Stoke in the final. He had also netted twice in a replay with Notts County in the fourth round of the cup and, when called upon to make sure games needed tightening up and results needed securing, he came off the bench to add height, experience and calmness to the defence.

Still at City, he's working with the youth teams and is passing on everything he learned in the game. He might well prove to be one of the biggest bargains the club has ever had.

Emile Mpenza

It was February 2007 and Stuart Pearce's City were dire. That season remains one of the worst fans ever saw, with the Blues breaking unwanted records left, right and centre -- including managing to go from New Year's Day to the end of the season without scoring a home league goal.

With a relegation dogfight on the cards, an inability to score was causing problems. Pearce, however, pulled off a masterstroke in bringing in Emile Mpenza. The Belgian took a little time to get into his stride, but goals against Middlesbrough and Newcastle helped the Blues to back-to-back wins and good performances from the forward played a huge part in an Easter haul of 10 points from a possible 12.

Ultimately, his part in City staying in the Premier League that season can't be underestimated.

Denis Law

It takes a lot to be regarded in a positive light by both Manchester United and Manchester City fans. Undoubtedly a legend at Old Trafford, Law actually began in the city with the Blues -- moving to the Reds following a spell at Torino. His return to Maine Road came following Tommy Docherty's decision to give him a free transfer in 1973. With City interested and with Law settled in the area, he chose to swap back.

His final kick of a ball in professional football was one of the most memorable in the sport's history. He scored the only goal of the Manchester derby with a back-heeled flick, giving the Blues a 1-0 win over the Reds. Law walked off the pitch, head slumped, and without celebrating, believing his effort had relegated his former club -- though, whatever the result, United wouldn't have beaten the drop.

He proved in his final season that he was still a player worth having and scored 12 times in 29 appearances.

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