Belfast Telegraph

Clarke tips City to retain title

West Brom boss Steve Clarke believes Manchester City are favourites to retain their Barclays Premier League title ahead of the clash between the two sides at The Hawthorns.

The Baggies have won their opening four home league games - their best start since 1919 in the top flight - but that record will be given its sternest test yet by Roberto Mancini's side. Clarke feels City have a squad strong enough to cover all eventualities - including the absence of the injured David Silva - as they look to repeat last May's dramatic title triumph.

He said: "At this moment in time I'd say Manchester City are still the favourites to win the league. They haven't shown that they've gone backwards from last year."

Clarke added: "They've shown that they're at the same level and it's up to everyone else to catch up with them.

"You know their squad is really strong and they have a number of options.

"I read in the week that David Silva is injured but they've got Samir Nasri to come in. They've got like-for-like replacements all over the pitch.

"They're a strong squad and if you're going to compete up there at that level, then you need one."

Clarke has also tried to assemble a squad of sufficient depth to overcome the loss of key players such as Chris Brunt, Steven Reid and Peter Odemwingie.

He added: "In the Premier League in general you need a strong squad, which is something we've tried to build at Albion this year. I think over the first seven games we've shown that our squad is strong enough to be competitive.

"Credit to those we've got who have not been selected and have come into games with maybe half an hour or 20 minutes to go but always made a positive contribution. That's really important when you're trying to build a good team and a good squad."


From Belfast Telegraph