Manchester City have been installed as favourites to win the 2012-13 English Premier League title even though recent history suggests the blue half of Manchester will face a difficult task to hold off Manchester United and successfully defend their crown when the new season gets underway on August 18.
City clinched their first English title since 1968 with virtually the last kick of the 2011-12 season, in one of the most exciting finishes to an EPL campaign ever.
And Roberto Mancini's side have been installed as the $2.15 favourites by online bookmakers Luxbet to successfully defend their title next season.
But arch-rivals Manchester United, who are the $3.25 second favourites on Luxbet to win the 2012-13 EPL crown, loom large.
Remember, just goal difference separated the two teams last season as the duo finished a massive 19 points clear of third-placed Arsenal, and this year it will be City rather than United that will have the added pressure of being defending champions and the team that everyone wants to beat.
And United have a history of not letting any other team enjoy the summit of the EPL for too long.
In the past 20 seasons, United have won 12 titles. During that period, only Chelsea ‑ in 2004-05 and 2005-06 ‑ have successfully been able to defend their EPL title other than United.
And while there is still plenty of time for all 20 teams to strengthen their squads ahead of the start of the season, City is yet to do so, while United has already picked up Japanese star Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.
|Man Utd to win the 2012-13 EPL title at $3.25 at Luxbet
||Arsenal to win the 2012-13 EPL title at $13 at Luxbet|
Chelsea, which has appointed last season's Champions' League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo on a permanent basis, are clear third favourites to win the title at Luxbet at $5.50 and are good value‑ particularly with their squad having already been bolstered by the arrival of Belgium midfield star Eden Hazard.
But while it is hard to get enthused about either Spurs or the Reds under their respective new managers in Andre Vilas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers, the Gunners look determined to end their trophy drought now stretching all the way back to 2005.
While Arsenal's shaky defence still looks a worry, veteran manager Arsene Wenger is building a strike force capable of terrorising any team, with proven international goalscorers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to join captain Robin Van Persie in leading the line next season.
Newcastle, which performed superbly under manager Alan Pardew last season in finishing fifth and so far have managed to retain all their star players, are at the generous odds of $151 to win the title at Luxbet.
They are certainly make more appeal than Liverpool at $31 in particular, given the Reds only finished eighth last season and have already lost the reliable Dirk Kuyt to Fenerbache from last season's squad.
Everton at $201 and Aston Villa ‑ now managed by former Norwich manager Paul Lambert with Australia international Brett Holman in their ranks ‑ at $501 are the only other teams under 1000/1 at Luxbet to win next season's title, with recently promoted West Ham and Reading at the bottom of betting at $5001.