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What lies ahead for City, United and Chelsea?

Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea appear to be the three sides who are capable of challenging for the title this season.

With the first week of the new Premier League season complete, current champions Manchester City lived up to expectations by defeating newcomers Southampton, as did Chelsea against Wigan Athletic, but Manchester United succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Everton.

Here, Total Football takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the three sides after their opening fixtures.

MANCHESTER CITY

Strengths:

On paper you could not be blamed for thinking Manchester City would record a comfortable opening day victory against Premier League new boys Southampton. This game was far from relaxed for the champions though.

Having been 1-0 down to a Carlos Tevez goal Southampton equalised in the 59th minute before scoring again ten minutes later thanks to a misplaced Jack Rodwell pass. At this point it would have been a nervous time in the game for City fans.

However, four minutes later Edin Dzeko made it 2-2 before Samir Nasri scored the winner ten minutes from the end. At 2-1 City could have crumbled but Roberto Mancini’s men showed the strength of character that is needed at the top of the Premier League.

Another positive for Man City is that problematic striker Carlos Tevez has taken part in a full pre-season with the club following his difficulties in the last campaign. The Argentinian looked lively in Sunday’s encounter getting his name on the scoresheet and could be like a new signing for the Blues.

Weaknesses:

Roberto Mancini has recently bemoaned the club’s lack of signings this summer despite acquiring Jack Rodwell from Everton.

Recent reports have indicated that Adam Johnson could be leaving for Sunderland while Edin Dzeko is being linked with a move away from the club.

The injury Sergio Aguero suffered against Southampton will keep him out for a few weeks and this will do nothing to improve Mancini’s view on the strength of his squad.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Strengths:

The £24m signing of Robin van Persie (pictured) has no doubt strengthened Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad but the Dutchman could not prevent his new side from losing at Goodison Park on Monday night when he was released from the bench.

After a shaky start to his first season in the Premier League David De Gea has now established himself as one of the league’s most impressive goalkeepers and he performed well against Everton, making a string of important saves to keep the scoreline to a minimum.

There were questions how Shinji Kagawa would adapt to the Premier League after his move from Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund but his impressive performance on Monday night was a sign of things to come from the Japanese playmaker.

Weaknesses:

United’s starting line-up against Everton was proof that they are short of natural defenders as Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick started at right-back and centre-half respectively.

Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are all injured and this may be reflected in the Red Devil’s opening fixtures.

With the arrival of Van Persie in the second half United still failed to equalise and after the match Ferguson outlined his disappointment with his teams failure to finish and create chances.

CHELSEA

Strengths:

Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s major signing in the transfer window at a price of £32m and boss Roberto Di Matteo would have been delighted with the Belgian’s debut in the 2-0 victory over Wigan.

Hazard started the game brightly, setting up Branislav Ivanovic for the opener before winning the penalty for Chelsea’s second.

Brazil’s Oscar is another new signing for the West Londoners and the youngster looked good when he replaced Hazard in the second half. He had an impressive Olympics and looked comfortable in the Chelsea team.

Weaknesses:

After the victory on Sunday there are not many negatives that can be drawn, apart from the fact that Di Matteo only has two recognised strikers in his squad in Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres. This could be problematic should one of them get injured, but Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente has been linked with a move to the Blues.

By David Turner

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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