WHEN Manchester City embarks on the defence of their Premiership at West Ham today, they will begin their pursuit of a third straight league title and do so as favourites to win it by next May.
Pep Guardiola is well aware of the difficulty of the task that lies ahead and made reference to this the other day when he said that he did not think it would only be Liverpool who would pose a serious threat.
The Spaniard mentioned a handful of clubs whom he thought would also be in the running this season and made special mention of their cross-town rivals Manchester United who spent rather lavishly on defenders in the off-season.
Guardiola has had his squad strengthened with the acquisition of Rodri, short for Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante, the 23-year-old Spanish international signed from Atletico Madrid for almost £62.6mil.
City also completed the signing of Joao Cancelo from Italian giants Juventus for a fee of £60mil. The agreement sees City full-back Danilo, 28, move in the opposite direction for a fee of £34.1m.
The world-class David Silva (pic), expected to leave the game at the end of the season, will be hoping to do so triumphantly.
Last season’s battle for the title with Liverpool was a nail-biting one in the truest sense, going down to the last day and won only by a single point.
Early indicators are that we could be in for a similar showdown this season, but with a couple of other contenders also in the mix.City being installed as favourites to prevail again is merely a measure of the strength of their squad and due recognition for a side that last season won all three major competitions in England – the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup – an unprecedented achievement that will take some beating.
Like last year, the season curtain-raiser Community Shield has already been secured, courtesy of a penalty shootout triumph over Liverpool last weekend
The Citizens are fancied to do it all again, only this time around they will be expected to win the Champions League as well, a tournament in which they have been installed as favourites too.
Of course, it won’t be easy, but if one team can do it, then it must be Man City.