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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Robbie Morris
Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.