Premier League 2018/19 title race: North West big guns set to dominate

Manchester United kick-off the 2018/19 Premier League season at home to Leicester City on August 10 with their fans desperate to see the club mount a serious title challenge. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City romped to victory last term, winning the title with a comfortable 19-point cushion, but there are reasons to believe things could be much closer this time around.

Jose Mourinho has been in a belligerent mood for much of the pre-season, with the United boss seemingly frustrated over the club’s failure to bring in his chosen transfer targets. Mourinho’s most pressing concern is at centre-back, with moves for Leicester City’s Harry Maguire and Tottenham Hotspur star Toby Alderweireld proving difficult to get over the line.

Barcelona and Colombia defender Yerry Mina is the latest player to be linked to Old Trafford, although whether he is the man to resolve United’s defensive issues is questionable. Fred looks a solid signing in midfield following his arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk, but it is some of United’s existing stars who could determine whether the club challenges for the title.

Left-back Luke Shaw is in the last-chance saloon at Old Trafford, but he could save the club big money if he can finally step up to plate this season. Further forward, Mourinho has challenged midfielder Paul Pogba to reproduce the form he showed for France at the World Cup, while Alexis Sanchez has plenty to prove after failing to sparkle following his move from Arsenal last January.

If United can bring in another defender and the rest of the pieces fall into place, it would be worth claiming a free bet and backing the Red Devils at around 8/1 to win the title. Reigning champions City can be expected to put up a strong defence of their crown this term, but they are likely to find things much tougher.

Riyad Mahrez’s arrival from Leicester City boosts their attacking options, but their failure to beat Chelsea to midfielder Jorginho’s signature is a blow. The phrase “next year will be our year” has become a stick to beat Liverpool fans with, but there can simply be no excuses if they don’t win the title this season. The Reds have invested heavily in their squad, splashing over £175 million on Alisson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Jurgen Klopp’s insistence that he doesn’t need another centre-back to partner Virgil van Dijk could prove to be their downfall, but Liverpool should be in the mix. Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal also can’t be ruled out of the running, although it’s difficult to imagine them challenging the North West trio for the title.

New manager Maurizio Sarri may improve Chelsea enough to take them into the top four, while Spurs could suffer the consequences of failing to adequately strengthen their squad this summer. Unai Emery has addressed many of the issues left behind by former manager Arsene Wenger, but their squad still doesn’t look strong enough to challenge for the title.

Top six predictions: Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs

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