Top North West Club: Liverpool can muscle in on Manchester affair
If Manchester City’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield showed us anything, it’s that we should expect the unexpected when it comes to the Premier League.
City go into the new campaign as the joint-favourites to win the title for what would be a second successive season, but then the Sky Blues have been here before.
Manchester United are also expected to mount a title challenge, but despite some great results in pre-season, the proof will ultimately be in the pudding for the relatively untested Red Devils.
City are the favourites to be the highest placed Premier League club in the north west come the end of the season with Manchester United just behind, but in what many are predicting to be a two-horse race, Liverpool could yet surprise.
The Citizens have finished in the top two of the Premier League in each of the previous three seasons and as title winners last term were obviously the best team from the North West. But given their short price and the worrying display against Arsenal in the Community Shield, it would be foolish to back them here, particularly when you consider the unfavourable odds.
Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala may have arrived from Porto but with the former unproven at this level and the latter admittedly unfit, City could be in danger of repeating the mistakes of two years ago when the reigning champions failed to improve their squad over the summer.
One of two picks in this market offering value, the Red Devils just shade it ahead of Liverpool thanks to the arrival of Louis van Gaal. The reality is that United underperformed under David Moyes last term and if the Dutchman gets them playing the kind of effective system that saw him enjoy success at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich then they could challenge for top honours.
More signings may be required but the Old Trafford club still possesses a squad full of talented top-level players who may simply be in need of a strict manager to mould them into an effective team. The title may be beyond them but if City stumble, don’t be surprised to see United pounce.
The loss of Luis Suarez was a big one for the Reds but Liverpool have nevertheless spent well this summer and could yet compete in the top North West team market – provided Manchester United continue to struggle and City endure their biannual title capitulation.
Daniel Sturridge can be expected to provide goals while the arrivals of Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno could help the Merseysiders add more defensive steel to their efforts.
The undoubted outsiders in this market, Everton need something approaching a miracle to come out on top here, with the Toffees likely to require a runners-up finish in the Premier League to pip their local rivals to the big prize.
Keeping hold of Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry will help their cause, along with the arrival of Christian Atsu on loan but even the ever-optimistic Roberto Martinez may concede this is just out of reach for his team at this point in time.
Barely worth considering, Sean Dyche’s team will be lucky to survive beyond this season in the Premier League, let alone challenge Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton. Finish above them and I will eat my keyboard.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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