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Manchester City to press on for Premier League title in New Year

We might feel we have plenty to moan about in this country, but one thing we can all celebrate is the Premiership. In terms of excitement and competition, there is no other league like it.

As we go into the New Year, there are just nine points separating the top eight clubs and seven points dividing the bottom ten. According to Coral’s odds, five teams have genuine chances of winning the title – Manchester City (evens), Chelsea (4/1), Arsenal (9/2), Liverpool (10/1) and Manchester United (12/1) – with Everton (33/1) and Spurs (66/1) outsiders in the mix.

Compare that to the other big leagues in Europe. Juventus and PSG are clear at the top and long odds-on to stay there in Italy and France respectively, while Bayern Munich are so dominant in Germany that those bookies still bothering to bet on the outcome are offering odds of 1/150.

And in Spain they are wetting themselves because Athletico Madrid have made it a three-horse race instead of the usual two, but it’s still odds-on Barcelona for La Liga.

Just about every rival manager has stated that Man City are the strongest contenders for the Premiership title and that’s not just mind games. And while being the best side doesn’t always guarantee the top prize, you do get the feeling that Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring Blues are ready to kick on in the second half of the season.

Their away form hasn’t been up to scratch yet, but I expect them to have too much for mid-table Swansea on Wednesday; Coral’s 4/7 is tempting.

Swansea were unfortunate not to beat Aston Villa last Saturday, in as much as they had 73% of the possession, a remarkable statistic for an away team.

This said as much about Villa’s lack of thrust and ambition and there is a growing feeling that the midlanders are getting into the sort of slump that could easily drag them into the relegation zone.

They are at Sunderland (6/5) on New Year’s Day and such is the precarious nature of the bottom half of the table that another loss would leave Villa just three points ahead of the club currently occupying bottom place.

Those in peril, or potential peril, of relegation are too numerous to mention, but managerless Cardiff (13/8 to go down) and West Brom (11/2).are other teams on the edge of the swamp, along with West Ham (9/4) and Norwich (11/4).

One team surprisingly not in immediate danger is Hull City, who jumped into the top half of the table by thrashing Fulham 6-0 last weekend. A trip to Liverpool (2/7) will be a far stiffer challenge altogether with the home side anxious to make up for two away Christmas defeats at Man City and Chelsea.

Coral’s odds suggest that City, Chelsea and Arsenal will fill the first three places at the end of the season with Man United (4/5 to finish in the top four) and Liverpool (10/11) fighting it out for the other Champions League spot, so every single point is vital.