While caution has been the watchword for many Premier League clubs this summer, Manchester City FC have continued to spend lavishly in the transfer market in a bid to break into the upper echelons of the Premier League which they narrowly missed out on last season.
Having been denied a fourth-place finish and a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot by Tottenham Hotspur FC, manager Roberto Mancini has invested over €100m on Mario Balotelli, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva, Yaya Touré and Jérôme Boateng. With more arrivals likely before deadline day, supporters will hope such an outlay can take City one step further than last term – and closer to their first English title since 1968 and third overall.
I'm excited, it's going to be a big year for us," said Mancini, whose team meet Tottenham in the first match of the top-flight campaign at 13.45CET on Saturday. "I would have liked another 20 days together with the squad, because we want the whole squad at the same level. It's so important that we start the season well."
Doing exactly that will be uppermost in Chelsea FC's thoughts after last season's double winners suffered a 3-1 defeat by Manchester United FC in the FA Community Shield on Sunday – their fourth successive pre-season reverse. Chelsea, in contrast to City, have had a quiet summer, recruiting Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool FC and Ramires (SL Benfica) while letting Michael Ballack, Joe Cole, Deco, Juliano Belletti and Ricardo Carvalho leave Stamford Bridge.
After finishing a point behind Chelsea last term, Manchester United will be out to eclipse the English record of 18 league titles they share with Liverpool FC. Sir Alex Ferguson, who has brought in Mexico striker Javier Hernández (CD Guadalajara) and defender Chris Smalling (Fulham FC), is predicting "a bit of a dogfight for the top four places" involving as many as eight clubs.
One of those possible contenders, Arsenal FC, have bolstered their attacking options by acquiring Marouane Chamakh and with Robin van Persie back to full fitness and FIFA World Cup winner Cesc Fàbregas still in north London, the goal will be a first piece of silverware since 2005. Tottenham Hotspur, who face BSC Young Boys next week in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, will aim to challenge for a top-four berth again despite signing only midfielder Sandro from SC Internacional.
Optimism will also be high on Merseyside, where Everton and Liverpool endured mixed campaigns in 2009/10, finishing eighth and seventh respectively. That prompted the Reds to part company with Rafael Benítez after six years and recruit manager Roy Hodgson from beaten UEFA Europa League finalists Fulham, who subsequently installed Mark Hughes as a replacement. Likewise, West Ham United FC begin the season under new management following the appointment of Avram Grant, while Aston Villa FC's preparations have been hit by Martin O'Neill's resignation on Monday.
Making their first appearance at this level since 1971, unfancied Blackpool FC will relish the prospect of defying the doubters and remaining among England's elite. The Lancashire club are joined in the Premier League by Newcastle United FC and West Bromwich Albion FC, who both won promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt last term.
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