Premier League: Man City and Chelsea look powerful, says Ed Chamberlin
Manchester United's odds lengthen after Swansea loss
Last Updated: 21/08/14 2:32pm
It's dangerous to jump to any conclusions after one round of fixtures in the Barclays Premier League – especially with two more weeks to go with the transfer window open.
However, Manchester City and Chelsea looked ominously good last weekend. They backed up pre-season expectations and it's easy to see why they are clear at the top of Sky Bet's title odds.
The key word is 'power'. Both look stronger and more powerful than the rest. Both had the kind of fixtures in which they slipped up last season. On Super Sunday the champions did nothing flashy against Newcastle but ground out a result with the minimum of fuss. They were even able to bring Sergio Aguero off the bench. Pellegrini's options up front are frightening.
Manchester City (9/4 to win the title with Sky Bet, 1/25 to finish in the Top 4)
Fernando also looks a superb signing. What an athlete he is. The way he got back to cover and block Ayoze Perez's shot late on at St James' had the boys in the studio out of their seats. In City's big games this season Fernando and Fernandinho should provide a dynamic shield to allow Yaya Toure to play further forward, off a striker. That is one powerful unit.
City have flexed their muscles off the field too. You could argue the best signings of the summer have been the new contracts signed by Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and this week Edin Dzeko. Now that is a strong statement of intent. Manchester City remain a 9/4 chance to retain the title.
Chelsea are the movers after week one, in to 11/8 with Sky Bet. The last four Premier League winners have kicked off their seasons on the Monday Night Football. Chelsea could easily make it five. Cesc Fabregas ran the show at Burnley and although you can't read too much into one result, it's evident – as discussed at length in my season preview – that Jose Mourinho now has all the pieces of his jigsaw in place.
Fabregas and Nemanja Matic have the power to rival Man City. Defensively, Chelsea are rock solid and now have a goalscorer. As Gary Neville said on Monday Night Football, Chelsea can fight you when necessary but also out-pass you or just steamroller you. They have the lot.
After Monday night, how Arsenal fans must hope Arsene Wenger buys a powerhouse to bolster their midfield.
Manchester United (9/1 to win the title with Sky Bet, 8/11 to finish in the Top 4)
Meanwhile, the Louis van Gaal era at Old Trafford began with a 2-1 home defeat against Swansea last Saturday, handing United their first opening day home defeat since losing by the same score-line to Ipswich in August 1972. They last lost their opening game of the season in 2012-13 and went on to win title. This time, bookmaker reaction was dramatic. Sky Bet instantly pushed Manchester United out to 9/1 to win the Premier League. doubling their odds.
While van Gaal got all the headlines we must not overlook Swansea's achievement - their first league win against Man United since January 1982 and first ever League win at Old Trafford. A real feather in Garry Monk's cap.
Now United have to bounce back at Sunderland. The game is live on Super Sunday and I will be hosting the show from the Stadium of Light. Manchester United will be after revenge. They owe Sunderland after the penalty shoot-out defeat in the Capital One Cup semi-final and the game at Old Trafford in May – Ryan Giggs’ first defeat as interim manager putting Gus Poyet’s side three points clear of the relegation zone and on the brink of their miracle escape.
Prior to that United had the sign over the Black Cats. They were unbeaten in 23 Premier League games (18 wins) and haven't lost successive League games to Sunderland since Bill Murray’s side won three in a row between December 1950 and October 1951. Sunderland are 15/4 with Sky Bet to repeat the trick.
United could improve considerably away from home. They were flying in pre-season until they got back to the pressure of Old Trafford to play Valencia and Swansea.
It will be interesting to see if van Gaal sticks with the formation Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville discussed at length on Monday's show. Gary talked about the difficulties of recruitment and the £16m signing of Marcos Rojo suggests he will stick with it as you'd expect him to play as a left-sided centre-half with Luke Shaw (when fit) as the left wing-back. It will be fascinating to see the team and system he plays plus how it all pans out on Sunday. We start at 12.30pm on Sky Sports 1 with Hull v Stoke, followed by Sunderland v Manchester United.
Wayne Rooney is bound to be popular at 7/2 to score the first goal. His strike against Swansea was his 174th Premier League goal to move within one of third-placed Thierry Henry in the all-time top Premier League scorers list. Only Andy Cole (83) and Alan Shearer (87) have scored more away Premier League goals.
After that game it will be a race to get to Newcastle airport to catch the flight down to London as we've got the first 'blockbuster' game of the season on Monday Night Football.
The season's top two: Manchester City v Liverpool. Sky Bet have Manchester City as odds-on favourites (17/20) for Liverpool's first big test of the post-Luis Suarez era. Stopping the City juggernaut is a big ask.