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Can Manchester United realistically be Premier League title challengers this season?

There is no doubt that this seasons addition of the Premier League will be one of the most hotly contested with the high level of quality going right down the division. Many however have named Liverpool and Manchester City as the two forces that will be fighting for the right to be called the champions of England. Manchester United fans will not be used to being written off at the start of the season, but with the strength of their two rivals on paper it will be a huge ask and compete for a place at the top.

However, football is not played on paper and with the quality of players at Jose Mourinho’s disposal we could yet see a title race that pans out very differently. Liverpool has spent big in this summer’s transfer window bringing in four players which have really added to the overall quality of their squad. They strengthened the goalkeeper position with the signing of Alisson Becker from Roma and bolstered their midfield options with the signings of Fabinho, Naby Keita, and Xherdan Shaqiri.

These additions along with a very strong forward line make for worrying reading for other Premier League sides as Liverpool are seemingly looking to finally compete with the biggest clubs in world football.  However United did manage to finish above their Merseyside rivals by a convincing margin of 6 points last season even with the additions of Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah so there is no reason why Mourniho’s men can defy the odds and finish above this widely admired Liverpool side.

Manchester City, on the other hand, may be a tougher nut to crack for United who finished 19 points behind their City rivals last season. Pep Guardiola’s side managed to break many records including being the first side to finish with 100 points in a Premier League season only dropping 14 points. Due to their dominance, there have not been many additions to their squad with former Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez being the only signing made in the window.

Many have already predicted City to continue their dominance in the league and have another very successful season but the blue half of Manchester has never been able to retain the Premier League title with many saying it is easier to win the title than retaining it. However, United were one of the only sides who were able to outfox Guardiola’s men and beat City in a classic 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium and after their 2-0 win over Arsenal in the first game of the season there were still some points of weakness which other teams could potentially exploit.

Furthermore United have a squad full of talented players of their own with Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku all hungry for success and a defensive line who conceded only one more than City last season, there is no reason why the battle of the Manchester clubs will be one-sided this season.

However, it would be foolish to rule out United in any season before a ball has even been kicked. The team that wins the league is the one who can maintain consistent performance throughout the season and there is no guarantee that any of these teams will have a completely injury and problem free season so if United can maintain consistent performance and keep key players injury free, there is no reason why they can’t mount a title challenge this season.

Written by Ciaran Coyle

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