Who Can Push Manchester City the Closest?

Last season saw Manchester City run away with the Premier League title at a canter. Pep Guardiola's assembly of star players saw them make light work of the opposition, as they ended the season 19 points clear of cross-town rivals Manchester United.

With such a large gap between them and their so-called rivals, there is little to suggest that they will not be the first team to win successive Premier League titles since Sir Alex Ferguson did so with United back in the 2008/09 season.

Anyone who is looking at the football betting markets with a view to next season will see that the bookmakers are confident that Manchester City will win back to back league titles, so much so that their current price is as short as 4/6 to repeat the success of last season.

But if City are to win the league again, the hope will be that the title race is at least a lot closer this time around. If this is to be the case, the question will be which club or clubs can push the defending champions the furthest?

The first club that springs to mind is that of Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp and his players may well have suffered the crushing disappointment of losing the Champions League Final, but at the same time, one should not forget the fact that they seem to have City's number as of late.

It was the Merseyside outfit that knocked out Pep Guardiola's men out of Europe's top club competition last season and they were also the team that ended City's chances of an invincible league season after a pulsating 4-3 win at Anfield at the start of the year.

Liverpool still has a few issues to solve themselves but they do at least have a realistic chance of pushing for a first league title since 1990. If it's not them who run the holders the closest then it could well be Jose Mourinho who has a say in where the Premier League trophy goes next season.

They may have finished second last season, but it was nothing but a one-horse, race in fairness. This is a situation that the Red Devils have to improve on if they don't then questions will be asked as to whether the "Special One" is losing his powers as one of the world's best managers.

That is a title that Mauricio Pochettino has not been given just yet, but if he could deliver a first league success for Tottenham since 1961 then he would quickly join that select band of coaches. The North London outfit move back home to their new stadium in September and what better housewarming party would there be then one that sees the title being lifted on May 12th 2019.

One should not rule out Chelsea, either; their boom and bust cycle means that after an uninspiring campaign last time around, they will be looking to return to the pinnacle of the English game – although the fact that no-one knows who will be in charge at Stamford Bridge could well be something that works against them.

Add into the mix the arrival of Unai Emery at Arsenal and the misfiring Gunners will be looking to return to the sharper end of the table. Whether they can be a factor in the title race remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how they get on when they go up against City on the opening weekend of next season.

If they can get a win then not only does it lay down a marker for them, but it also shows that the team that run away with the title last season may find it harder this time around. Something that fans up and down the country will be hoping is the case especially if it means we see a real title race unfold.

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