Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

The Punter: Manchester City slick enough for Premier League title challenge

One can be forgiven for thinking it will be a case of the same old, same old when the Premier League kicks off on Saturday.

At the risk of becoming boring, Chelsea and Man United will be all the rage to dominate matters yet again. Hardly surprising, considering that in 12 of the last 15 seasons, the title has gone to the team which has finished first or second in the previous year.

And of course, the one-two last time were Chelsea and United. Best price about Chelsea is 13-8 with United at 11-4.

The London Blues will be better for the return of Michael Essien from injury while new signing Yossi Benayoun’s contribution remains to be seen.

One thing for sure, there will be no shortage of goals from them and they will not lose too many games at the Bridge.

But the best bet has to be Man City at 6-4 (Ladbrokes) without Chelsea and United as the City Slickers are hell-bent on ‘buying’ the title and are the only club in the current economic climate who can afford to spend, spend spend.

Nothing wrong with that, as they are following the well trodden path set by Chelsea and others in the past.

City missed out on a top four place last season through bad defending and Roberto Mancini has moved to plug those deficiencies with the capture of versatile defender Jerome Boateng, a World Cup star with Germany in South Africa, from Hamburg. He joins defensive midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona and Valencia winger David Silva in the sky blue strip.

It is only a matter of time before the trophy ends up at Eastlands, so why not this season as both Chelsea and United have been forced to ease back on the transfer market.

Those backing the Citizens will get an idea of how the season is likely to progress in their opening two games — away to Spurs and at home to Liverpool.

Inconsistency and too many draws were City’s failing last time but don’t forget they beat Chelsea twice and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium.

One thing they are not short of is goalscorers and Silva’s skills should help strengthen that department.

Sheikh Mansour has spent £260m since buying the club in 2008, including £50m this pre-season with more likely to come in his desire to bring the best players to Eastlands.

Odds of 5-1 for outright success may not appeal to many but it is not as bad as it looks at first because, realistically, there there are only about four clubs capable of stopping them.

An alternative option for those who fancy City but are worried about Chelsea and Arsenal, should have a look at the 9-4 about City being top northern club. Arsenal make some appeal at 11-4 to be the leading London club in what is a three-horse market involving the Gunners, Spurs and Chelsea.

Premier League: 13-8 Chelsea; 11-4 Man Utd; 5-1 Man City; 7-1 Arsenal; 14-1 Liverpool; 40-1 Spurs; 150-1 Everton.

Top northern club: 8-13 Man Utd; 9-4 City; 7-1 Liverpool; 50-1 Everton; 150-1 Sunderland; 200-1 Newcastle.

Premier League (without Chelsea and Man Utd): 6-4 Man City; 2-1 Arsenal; 5-1 Liverpool; 10-1 Spurs; 25-1 Everton; 40-1 Aston Villa.

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