Paul Merson has backed Manchester City to win the Premier League again next season and believes there will be another competitive battle for the top four between Arsenal and Tottenham.
City got the edge over Liverpool last season to claim a fourth Premier League title from the past five campaigns.
The Reds finished just a point behind them in second, while Chelsea claimed third and Spurs pipped north London rivals Arsenal to fourth spot.
Meanwhile, United suffered a dismal campaign as they finished sixth and registered their worst ever points tally in a Premier League season.
City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal have all strengthened their squads with major signings this summer, but the Red Devils are yet to bring in top target Frenkie de Jong, with left-back Tyrell Malacia their only signing so far.
Premier League champions City have signed the prolific Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, while they have sold Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling to Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.
Though Merson has tipped Guardiola’s side to finish top once more, he doesn’t think they’re a shoo-in to do so.
‘I think Manchester City will win the Premier League, but I have to say it’s not as much of a foregone conclusion as others make it out to be,’ Merson told Sportskeeda.
‘Erling Haaland’s arrival is obviously a massive boost for Pep Guardiola, but it’s not the end of it with Liverpool still very much in the running. With the departures of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, Manchester City have lost at least 30 Premier League goals between the pair and that could turn out to be a huge problem for them.
‘The only worry for Liverpool, on the other hand, is that they’ve lost an unbelievable player in Sadio Mane, who scored big goals for them over the years. They’ll have to rely on Darwin Nunez to settle as quickly as Luis Diaz did, which is obviously a long shot because the Colombian took to English football like a duck to water. If Jurgen Klopp can get Nunez firing immediately, it’ll be tight once again, but if that doesn’t happen, I think Manchester City should win the Premier League.
‘Chelsea could be in the title race too with a couple of smart additions, but they’ll have to be consistent over the course of 38 games. Raheem Sterling will give them a massive lift – he’s a talented footballer who can play anywhere across the frontline as we’ve seen over the years for club and country. He has my respect and he should have no trouble adapting to Thomas Tuchel’s philosophy at Chelsea, having flourished in the Premier League for Liverpool and Manchester City.
‘Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea pick themselves as the top three in whatever order and I’d be shocked if anything else were to happen.
In terms of fourth place, Merson thinks United are likely to miss out at this point in time due to their lack of business so far this summer.
Instead, the ex-Gunners star has backed his former club to finish in the Champions League places ahead of their rival Spurs.
‘I’ll put Manchester United in the reckoning for a place in the top four because they are a massive club, but they haven’t done enough business at this point in time to stand a chance of securing UEFA Champions League football, so it should be between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal,’ Merson added.
‘If I had to pick one of the two north London sides, I’ll have to go with Arsenal. Tottenham’s participation in the UEFA Champions League this season could be an issue for them, as they’ll have a bunch of tough mid-week games to cater to in between their Premier League commitments. They don’t really have a big squad, which could make all the difference. Arsenal, on the other hand, should be able to manage their domestic commitments as the UEFA Europa League isn’t that high in terms of quality, at least in comparison to the Champions League.’
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