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(UK time) 06:11:55

Premier League

9 August 2010

Premier League title race gathers pace with six in contention

Chelsea are favourites, though there are reasons to back other contenders

Premier League title race gathers pace with six in contention

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Reigning champions Chelsea begin the season as 13/8 favourites to retain their Premier League crown, though another five clubs are hot on their trails. We assess the contenders’ strengths and weaknesses.

Chelsea – 13/8 to win the Premier League
Reasons to be cheerful: Ramires is a sound addition to an already powerful midfield, while Didier Drogba is a solid bet to be the Premier League’s top scorer at 9/2.

Reasons to be fearful: Pre-season defeats to Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg revealed a glaring lack of quality in goalkeeping reserves – Petr Cech cannot return soon enough.

Manchester United – 9/4
Reasons to be cheerful: Totemic centre-back Nemanja Vidic has signed a new contract, and new signing Javier Hernandez looks set for a free-scoring first season at Old Trafford.

Reasons to be fearful: Ageing midfielders Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have yet to be adequately replaced, and a lack of creativity could cost United in midfield.

Manchester City – 5/1
Reasons to be cheerful: David Silva adds class in midfield, and their prospective forward, the explosive Mario Balotelli, is a perfect fit for the Premier League.

Reasons to be fearful: Roberto Mancini’s squad could take time to gel after another summer of upheaval. If Emmanuel Adebayor fulfils his threat to leave, they could struggle for goals.

Arsenal – 6/1
Reasons to be cheerful: Cesc Fabregas is staying. New signing Marouane Chamakh has been sharp in pre-season, and his direct approach could make him an interesting bet at 25/1 to be the Premier League’s leading scorer.

Reasons to be fearful: With only three senior central defenders, the Gunners can ill afford to lose as many players to injury as they did last season. Still lacking another holding midfielder.

Liverpool – 12/1
Reasons to be cheerful: Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are staying, while new boy Joe Cole adds ingenuity to a midfield which was blunt for large parts of last season.

Reasons to be fearful: Holding midfielder Javier Mascherano is set to join Inter Milan, and the Reds could struggle to compensate for the loss of his destructive powers.

Tottenham – 28/1
Reasons to be cheerful: Gareth Bale is arguably the most improved player in the Premier League, while Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are a lethal strike partnership.

Reasons to be fearful: Harry Redknapp has yet to add to his squad, which could be overburdened by a Champions League campaign as well as a bid to retain fourth place.

Can anybody else possibly compete? Everton are 150/1 to win the title. See the full Premier League Betting Odds market.

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editors@ladbrokes.co.uk

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