A two horse race?
- Sat 18 Aug 2012, 9:04AM
- Posted by Chris Eccles
Even before a ball has been kicked in the new Premier League season, media predicitons struggle to see past Manchester as the destination for this season’s trophy.
Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson have kick-started the inevitable mind games by installing each other’s team as favourites for the title.
The City manager has been speaking about the challenge the Blues face this season after United bolstered their forward line with Robin Van Persie, telling The BBC,
"We won the league in the last three minutes, but we won because we deserved to.
"We have a stronger mentality, but we will have to work harder because United have signed Kagawa and Van Persie. United have played for the title every year for the last 20 years. I said this [about United being favourites] seriously."
Sir Alex thinks that City are the main threat to United's bid to regain the league title as he told The Guardian,
"Chelsea have won the European Cup, a trophy [Roman] Abramovich has been after.
"He's excited, loosening the purse strings and [he's] signed a few players. I'm certain they'll be challenging, but I look at Manchester City as our biggest threat. If you ask me who I think will be our biggest threat I would say City, without question."
Daniel Taylor in The Guardian agrees that United are in a stronger position than last year but reminds us that City have more than a few striking options saying,
"Mancini has some prolific forwards of his own, particularly now Carlos Tevez appears to have realised that being a £250,000-a-week footballer is not such a bad life.
"Sergio Agüero, with 30 goals in his first season, should be even better and Mario Balotelli has encouraged the sense that we might finally see a serious, grown-up footballer after staying out of trouble this summer."
The Mirror’s Simon Mullock argues that City have the stronger squad for the new season saying, “City are better than they were this time last year despite having virtually the same squad of players.”
Mullock goes on to say,
"There was something ominous about City when they beat Chelsea at Villa Park last week that should worry Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Di Matteo and the rest.
"They played with a strut and a swagger that only comes when you know you are the best team in the country.
"They had the arrogance of champions.
"Their 3-2 victory flattered Chelsea. Even before Branislav Ivanovic's red card, the European champions were chasing shadows."
The Guardian reports that Micah Richards and Gareth Barry will be unavailable for Sunday’s opener against Southampton and that Joe Hart is due to face a late fitness test.
Mark Ogden in The Telegraph predicts a comfortable win for the Blues on Sunday against the Premier League new boys, perhaps forgetting how well previous newly promoted sides have risen to the challenge.