Premier League Season Preview: Expansive City Have the Edge

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For many reasons the Premier League will look completely different this season. Firstly, we have the introduction of goal line technology, a concept which could have provided a definite answer to 31 subjective decisions last year.

Secondly, there is the absence of Sir Alex Ferguson, leaving Newcastle's Alan Pardew as the league's second longest-serving manager with a tenure just short of three years.

Thirdly, is the phenomenal transfer spend, which is arguably causing the biggest transformation the Premier League has undergone in a single summer since its conception.

Label Sport bring you their Premier League Season preview, discussing who they think the title contenders will be and why.

Title Contenders

Last season's top trio all have new bosses, but remain favourites in what many believe is a three horse race.

Manchester City

Manchester City have been quick to act following a trophyless season – sacking Roberto Mancini and acquiring Fernandinho for £30m from Shakhtar Donetsk before pre-season had even begun.

Despite conceding the fewest goals in the last two editions of the Premier League questions were asked about the level of defensive cover from midfield, so Fernandinho's capture ensures strength in this position.

Gareth Barry, Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell have all struggled to keep a regular first team place and defence is far from Yaya Toure's greatest strength. However, a partnership between Toure the playmaker and a deep Fernandinho is one that offers a lot of potential.

Whilst City are known to struggle in wide areas, newcomer Jesus Navas offers them a plan B. Despite only scoring one goal in La Liga for Sevilla last year, he is one of the most prolific chance creators in Europe so it seems unlikely that he'll fail to make an impact this season.

Mario Balotelli's departure in January contributed to City's goal scoring woes, but the arrivals of Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo are intended to fill the void left by both the enigmatic Italian and Carlos Teves, who has left for Juventus.

Manuel Pellegrini might have paid first rate prices for arguably second rate players, but City are not afraid to spend and they are serious about reclaiming the title.

Pellegrini spent £210m on four players at Real Madrid without winning anything so has a lot to prove, but should be more than capable with the right squad and the right players. VERDICT: 1st

Manchester United

Manchester United have not finished outside of the top two since 2005, but this could prove to be their toughest task since; venturing into the unknown under a new management team. Robin van Persie will continue to be one of the league's most prolific scorers, but United are yet to strengthen this summer despite multiple bids for Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas. City have spent £90 million trying to close the gap and Chelsea are better placed, so David Moyes' first assignment as United manager could not be tougher. VERDICT: 2nd

Chelsea

There has naturally been a lot of hype surrounding the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea but the Blues have been a considerable way off the top two for the past two seasons. It will take more than a single summer to turn it around, especially given the relative inactivity in the transfer market compared to City.

Andre Schurrle is an exceptional talent and Kevin de Bruyne was brilliant in the Bundesliga last season, but they join an already saturated attacking midfield alongside Marco van Ginkel.

There is still something lacking up front, with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba at the wrong club and Romelu Lukaku an unknown quantity towards the top of the league. If they fail to land Wayne Rooney they will struggle to break in to the top two once more. VERDICT: 3rd

Arsenal

Arsenal have again failed to sign world class players, despite commitments from the club and what was described by Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis as 'financial firepower'. VERDICT: 5th

Tottenham

Rivals Tottenham have been more active than ever, but this may show they are resigned to losing Gareth Bale, despite what Chairman Daniel Levy says. They have bought effectively and efficiently and look best placed to finish fourth, if not better. VERDICT: 4th

Everton

Everton have coped well with the departure of their manager of 11 years, appointing a very likeable Roberto Martinez following last season's FA Cup win. During his time with Wigan he never seemed to solve an endemic defensive problem, but should now be better equipped with a stronger squad. Holding on to Leighton Baines is essential – the left back having created more chances than any other player in the League last season – and players like Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas will be instrumental in maintaining a top six place.

Liverpool

Liverpool haven't brought in any big names, which might suggest a place in the top four could again be too great an ask. However, if the League had started in January last year, Liverpool would have finished third, hugely due to the work of players such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. Unfortunately, the club has been distracted by the debacle surrounding Luis Suarez, who continues to do himself no favours. VERDICT: 6th

The upper mid table is likely to be dominated by Swansea and West Ham, with Wilfried Bony an exciting new addition to the Swans. Norwich have bought very well and Cardiff look the best equipped promoted side to make the step up. Sunderland's spending is not far off emulating QPR's exploits last season; but with players such as Emanuele Giaccherini, Jozy Altidore and an in-form Stephane Sessegnon they should be looking up rather than down.

Between now and the end of August a lot can change, never mind between now and the end of the season. At this stage however, it looks as if Manchester City have the squad and determination to knock their rivals off their perch. Moyes, however, has shown that he is prepared to break his club's record transfer fee, so expect more before the end of the transfer window and never write Manchester United off in a title race which is sure to have its fair share of drama.

Do you agree? Let us know your predictions by tweeting @labelonline!

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