Manchester United are now genuine title contenders, insists Joe Mourinho

With the Champions League kicking-off in a month Jose Mourinho will hope to get the team tactics right with the arrival of newcomers Romelu Lukaku Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic
Mourinho: “The team was confident and played great football”
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13 August, 2017

The 2017-18 Premier League season begins on Friday, August 11, when Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.

Taking advantage of astronomical broadcast contracts and lucrative sponsorship deals, England's superpowers have been splashing the cash at an unprecedented rate.

Lukaku faces the greatest scrutiny, having been brought in to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the charismatic Swede was released in the wake of the serious knee injury he suffered last season.

"At my other clubs, what I had was more players scoring goals".

Expectations were sky-high when Guardiola alighted in Manchester after years of being courted by City, but a title challenge failed to materialise and his side did not make a mark in any of the cup competitions.

One stat that defined last season: A 25 match unbeaten run that included 12 draws showed how defensively solid and offensively ineffective the team was.

Manchester United have spent big this summer, lavishing £140million on Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.

Mourinho won the league in his second seasons at Porto, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, as well as in both of his stints at Chelsea, but he expects this season's title race to be an almighty scrap.

"We have had a better pre-season than previous year and we have the confidence levels of a team that has won a European competition and returned to the Champions League".

Chelsea kick off their Premier League title defence at home to Burnley on Saturday, and the unbridled joy that drenched Stamford Bridge in May has been clouded by anxiety over the course of a fractious and frustrating summer.

A fee of £40 million proved too substantial for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to turn down, even if manager Antonio Conte wanted to retain the midfielder he still called "very important for our team". Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40m), Antonio Rudiger (£34m) and Willy Caballero (free) have also arrived, but many other targets - most notably Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro - have proven unattainable.

The Premier League season is now just hours away, and it is time to look ahead to how the 20 teams will all get on.

Last season was by far the most hard of Wenger's 21-year reign, with Arsenal's on-pitch travails exposing him to furious protests from angry fans.

"A lot of the trouble was created by my own situation. I think it is the objective of every one of the top teams and every one of the top team managers", he said. "We all are. We have a good relationship".

United secured their passage back into the top table of European football after their success in the Europa League - with some claiming their entry is something of a backdoor qualification after they could only finish sixth in the Premier League.

Liverpool, trying to fend off Barcelona's interest in £100 million-rated forward Philippe Coutinho, are at Watford.


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