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Pep Guardiola’s Man City will beat reigning champs Liverpool to Premier League crown.. by a whisker

WE’VE seen it many times before — outstanding teams win the Premier League but then fail to strengthen.

And are we about to see champions Liverpool make the same mistake?

At the very least, it will give other teams a chance and I’m expecting a much closer title race than last season, which has to be a good thing.

I’m 50/50 over whether it will be City or Liverpool who lifts the trophy in May.

But if I had to go one way I’d go with Pep Guardiola’s men — only just though . . . maybe 51/49!

I might feel differently if Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp can sign Thiago Alcantara, who is a wonderful player.

And with their outstanding front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, they won’t be far away.

But experience tells us that title winners need to invest in their squad rather than stand still.

Chelsea will push harder this time and at Old Trafford, I can see United continuing to make progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

You only need to look at Manchester City last season to see that.
This summer Guardiola has set about strengthening the areas that let him down last season.

I really like Nathan Ake and believe he’ll fit in well under Pep — and I’d expect another centre-back to be following him to the Etihad.

While I’m going for the same top two, I expect Chelsea and Manchester United to provide more of a  challenge.

The Blues have backed Frank  Lampard in the transfer market with eye-catching signings like Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Thiago Silva.

Of course, bringing in new faces doesn’t automatically make you better and Frank will have to work out what his best side is.

And I’m also not sure if they have the right goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge with Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero to choose from.

But they will push harder this time and at Old Trafford, I can see United continuing to make progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He has added another good young player in 23-year-old Donny van de Beek and are looking to sign Jadon Sancho. So I think there are exciting times ahead again for them and I expect United to finish in the top four again.

Of the sides most likely to break into those Champions League places, I would go for Arsenal.

The only money they’ve spent so far is on the Brazilian defender Gabriel. But keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is bigger than any new signing.


He has shown in the games at Wembley since the re-start what a top-class forward he is and it was crucial that the Gunners kept him.

For me they are more likely to trouble the top four than Tottenham.

My old club have a few players who are coming towards the end and to me they look a bit light.

And if Harry Kane or Son Heung-min  got injured then they’d be really light, despite the arrival of Pierre-Emile  Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty.

At Goodison, another of my old stamping grounds, I would love to see James Rodriguez recapture the form he showed us at the 2014 World Cup.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti managed to get the best out of him for one season at Madrid so let’s hope he can do it again on Merseyside.

Along with Wolves and Leicester, I think you might see the top nine breaking away from the rest of the pack this season.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves were very consistent last season and despite not being in Europe they are spending again — notably £35million on 18-year-old Fabio Silva.

Burnley might have something to say about my prediction of a break-away group at the top of the table.

Even though they’ve not added to their squad yet, Sean Dyche knows exactly what he is doing and they’ll continue to ruffle some feathers.

As for the relegation spots, it could come from any of the rest.

There’s been some worrying signs at West Ham with the captain Mark Noble going public with his views on Grady Diangana’s sale to West Brom.

Aston Villa only survived by the skin of their teeth last season but Dean Smith knows what he is getting with £28m signing Ollie Watkins and will hope he gives them more breathing space this time.

Of the new boys, I think Leeds have the best chance of staying up.

It’s great to see them back in the top flight after a 16-year absence and I’m fascinated to see how manager Marcelo Bielsa does.

There is something of the ‘mad genius’ about the Argentine but his team were brilliant against Arsenal in the FA Cup last season.

I can’t wait to see more of them against the big boys and what a way to start for them — away at Anfield, the home of the champions.

The only thing I wish is that the fans were there to see it.

Gary hosts the first Match of the Day of the season tonight on BBC1 at 22.20

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