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Rupert Wyman 4th Aug 2009 - 13:24

Ancelotti is the perfect tonic for Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti is the latest big name to be appointed by Roman Abramovich to deliver the goods for Chelsea.

The Blues are current 2/1 joint favourites with Manchester United, to win this season's Premier League and the Stamford Bridge outfit look well placed to lift the trophy come May for the first time since 2006.

In the latter part of last season, then manager, Guus Hiddink had Chelsea playing and they looked like the best side in the league. Unfortunately for their Russian billionaire owner though the damage had already been done earlier on in the season when Luiz Felipe Scolari's reign collapsed after one poor performance after another.

If the Dutchman was still at the helm then it is likely that Chelsea would be outright favourites for the title rather than sharing favouritism with Sir Alex Ferguson's defending champions.

As it is Ancelotti arrives with a great pedigree having led AC Milan to numerous trophies including two Champions League successes.

The questions remain though, can he deliver the attacking brand of football that Abramovich craves and can he adapt to the fast flowing nature of the Premier League from the rather pedestrian Serie A?

Despite these concerns Chelsea look the best bet to win the league as a result of the outgoings at Old Trafford.

Man Utd have seen the departure of arguably the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. As well as Carlos Tevez who has moved across Manchester to City.

Replacing Ronaldo is Antonio Valencia from Wigan but the Ecuadorian is not in the same league as the Portuguese flyer and quite how United are to replace the 18 league goals scored by Ronaldo last season.

Those 18 goals earned United 11 points thus proving how key the winger was to Man Utd's fortunes.

Fergie will hope that Dimitar Berbatov steps up his game this term after a rather lacklustre first campaign at Old Trafford. And that new signing Michael Owen stays free from injury though I think there is more chance of Ronaldo staying on his feet in the penalty box than the England striker having an injury free season.

Chelsea themselves have not been overly active in the transfer market, perhaps as a result of Abramovich's billions not being so dominant with the Manchester City revolution, but more of that later.

The new arrivals at the Bridge have so far been limited to Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull arriving on free transfers and left-sided player Yuri Zhirkov from CSKA Moscow for £18 million. The former AC boss is still after playmaker Andrea Pirlo from his old club and if he was to sign it would be a real coup.

However, despite the arrivals the best news for Chelsea fans would have been captain John Terry resisting the lure of pound signs emanating from Eastlands.

There is no doubting that Man City have been the story this summer as they have splashed the cash in an attempt to gatecrash the Big Four.

The purchases of Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Tevez, Kolo Toure and with no doubt yet more to follow has seen Mark Hughes' side's price crash from 33/1 to 11/1 fifth favourites.

If City gel then they could easily be each way value, but it is a big 'if' as all the hopes and dreams of their Abu Dhabi United owners could go up in smoke with all the big egos in the dressing room.

It is Arsenal of the Big Four who will feel most at threat from City's new-found spending power. The Gunners were already in need of strengthening their squad to challenge for the title and with the sales of both Adebayor and Toure to City, Arsene Wenger needs to recruit fast and wisely.

As a result Arsenal are at 8/1 in the betting to win the title. Four years already without a trophy and the pressure could finally tell at the Emirates if another trophyless season is served up.

So far Arsenal have only brought in defender Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax. The Gunners could also do with another centre-back, midfield general and a striker.

Wenger's trust in youth is admirable and is probably better served than the rumoured return of club legend Patrick Vieira. The French midfielder is past it and Wenger got it right when he sold him in the first place although he would offer the team much-needed leadership.

Nevertheless it seemed to go unnoticed the amount of injuries Arsenal had last season and if they have better luck this term, despite the departures, they should be closer to the top.

In addition they will have the luxury of a full season from Andrei Arshavin, who at times towards the end of last season looked like one of the best players in the league. But it is not enough to persuade me to back Arsenal, albeit at a relatively big price.

The only other realistic contender for the title, in a somewhat predictable Premier League, are last season's runners-up Liverpool. The Reds are 11/4 third favourites to win their first Premier League title and their first league championship since 1990.

Rafa Benitez rather unwisely spent his entire summer budget on a right back in the form of Glen Johnson. While Johnson had a good season for Portsmouth last year and is an upgrade on Alvaro Arbeloa, Liverpool had more pressing issues to sort in the make-up of their squad.

Liverpool still lack width and Dirk Kuyt is not the answer to the problems on the right wing. The Reds have no real back-up to Fernando Torres and if he was to be injured again this season they could encounter the same problems. A new centre-back is also required for cover following the release of Sami Hyypia.

Benitez will not be happy though that his summer has been spent trying to keep hold of both Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano. The former certainly looks to be on his way out to join Real Madrid.

The Anfield boss should get the funds from the sale to add to his squad and looks set to replace Alonso with Roma's Alberto Aquilani.

Nevertheless I would not be confident about putting my money on Liverpool.

Chelsea look like the side with the least faults and I expect them to win the title with their experienced squad, albeit maybe at the expense of style much to the displeasure of Abramovich, in a competitive title race as all sides appear to have weaknesses and questions that need answering.

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