Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has issued a warning to Premier League champions Manchester City, claiming they will face a battle to retain their title.
The Serbia international believes that Manchester United remain the favourites to triumph come the end of the 2012-13, but is confident that his own side can spring a surprise in the coming season.
Ivanovic has experience of trying to win back-to-back titles, having been part of the Chelsea squad that triumphed back in 2010, and was warned City not to underestimate the chasing pack.
"Manchester United are always the first favourite when you look at the league," Ivanovic told reporters.
"They are always there. City won last year and they will have the motivation to do it again. But the other teams like us are trying to build something new. It's going to be very tough for City.
"It was the same with us. When you win the league all the other teams, whether they are big or small, they fight and have extra motivation against you.
"A lot of teams will be going for the title this season. The Premier League is the biggest challenge for any team. It is a long season."
Chelsea have added a host of attacking talent to their squad following the departure of Didier Drogba to Shanghai Shenhua with the likes of Eden Hazard joining for £32 million from Lille.
The Ivory Coast international secured Champions League glory for the club with his last kick in a Chelsea shirt by converting the winning penalty against Bayern Munich, and Ivanovic has revealed that the players are already missing their star man.
"It's really strange not having Didier around," the 28-year-old continued.
"We miss him. We keep waiting for him to walk back in. Somebody is missing. Didier was here eight years. He loved the club and he was a winner.
"He was a great player and a great man. We are going to miss him but I hope not on the pitch."