After seemingly only just returning, club football takes a breather until September 12th due to an international break, which sees England face San Marino and Switzerland in qualifying matches for UEFA Euro 2016.
Manchester City sit at the summit of the table, with a perfect record after four games. The last thing they need is to break the team up and disrupt the spirit in the camp. Below are some contributing factors that could effect the squad's form…
A key to glory at the top level is building on previous successes. Last season is long in the memories of City fans with their blistering start allaying any lingering worries. With teams around them dropping points, the Citizens will want to keep opening the gap, especially on holders Chelsea who have only picked up four points from a possible twelve.
August is only just over and City will not be getting too carried away, but their start is imperious and worrying for the rest of the league, and that must continue for as long as possible.
2. Potential injuries
A major reason for last-season’s struggles at the Etihad Stadium was injuries, even having to play James Milner up-front in a spell before Christmas. With Fernando, Wilfried Bony, Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy missing the Watford victory, they can ill-afford more injuries at this early stage of the campaign.
Competitive fixtures around the world for the majority of the first-team will leave the management team sweating, hoping for a clean bill of health come mid-September.
3. Squad chemistry
Most of City’s playing staff have been together for a few years now, with the spine of the team remaining as important as ever.
However, it has been a busy summer window for the club, with Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin de Bruyne being added to the senior squad. The last two names on the list are the newest arrivals and are yet to feature for their new employers, so would have liked an extra week or two with their team-mates to help gel as a team and learn each others' traits.
With a tough game away to Crystal Palace up next for City, Manuel Pellegrini would have preferred to have his squad available to prepare for the fixture well in advance.
Jetting around the world to various locations such as South America and Africa will certainly not help matters. The players may travel in luxury, but different time zones and extra games mean tired minds and legs, even at this early stage of the season.
The imminent return of the UEFA Champions League and the Capital One Cup signals the start of two games in a week, and a busier schedule. Players need to remain as fresh as possible, not only to perform well, but to avoid injuries.
5. Opposition regrouping
As touched on earlier, City’s title rivals have started slowly this year, a polar opposite to the perfect start made by last-season's runners-up.
Chelsea have stuttered with off-field issues dominating the headlines, with José Mourinho’s ongoing dispute with club doctor Eva Carneiro amongst the issues looming over them. Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are not showing much to worry City just yet, either, but an extended break gives them a chance to forget about their troubles and compose themselves.
There is still a long way to go, and at this early stage the league positions can be misleading, so City will want their rivals’ blips to continue for a little longer.
There is, however, a bright side to this badly-timed break, with players getting more time on their way to sharpness. Sergio Agüero looks half-a-yard off the pace and could do with more minutes to get back to his devastating best, and Delph is returning from an injury, so will hope to feature in England’s games.