Alan Smith on Man City's Premier League chances, what next for RVP and promoted Reading...
Last Updated: 15/08/12 3:13pm
The Olympics have dominated the sporting landscape over the last few weeks but football will take centre stage this weekend with the return of the Premier League.
Manchester City will be intent on retaining the title they snatched in such dramatic fashion from bitter rivals Manchester United on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign - but how are Roberto Mancini's side shaping up for their trophy defence?
Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith gave his views on Sky Sports News, while the pundit also aired his thoughts on Robin van Persie's future and how the newly-promoted clubs will fare this term...
City's title defence...
"They won the title on goal difference - it was the tightest of margins between themselves and United, so you look at it and there's not much to separate them. So much depends on what happens between now and the end of the month and the transfer window shutting.
"City are the team to beat, without question. Carlos Tevez is almost like a new signing now he's properly match fit and he's had a pre-season. We saw in the Community Shield how he can link up with Sergio Aguero. You'd think that they'd make some more signings but I think it will still be tight between the two Manchester sides.
"The confidence the title will give everybody at City will be huge because there was a weight of expectation there. Now they can kick forward and they are capable of dominating for the next few years."
On Van Persie's future...
"If United don't get Robin van Persie, I don't know where he will go. City are obviously interested but I think they've got to get rid of players to bring him in. But if he does arrive at Old Trafford, him and Wayne Rooney will be a tremendous partnership - with Van Persie playing on the last line, as he did for Arsenal last year and with Rooney tucked in, or vice versa.
"They've also got Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, and I think all managers would want four quality strikers for a long season ahead. I think Van Persie could be a sensation at Manchester United becuase he's a world-class player.
"I'm not saying signing him would make United win the title but it would lift the club before the start of the season - if it needs lifting. They would have been on a bit of a downer having lost the title to their local rivals."
On the promoted clubs...
"It seems like the rules have changed if you look at how Swansea and Norwich coped last season and the fact QPR stayed up as well, so you don't automatically look at the newly promoted clubs and think they are favourites to go down.
"Reading have made some good signings and they had a tremendous season last year, winning the Championship at a canter in the end and if they can get their feet under the table in the first few weeks then they can kick on. Plus, West Ham with Sam Allardyce's expertise should just about manage it but it is difficult to call."