Trevor Steven: Manchester City and Manchester United are heading for a two-horse race for the Premier League title

 
Trevor Steven
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Watford v Manchester City - Premier League
Raheem Sterling's improvement bodes well for Manchester City (Source: Getty)

We will know more in 10 games’ time but, as it stands, Manchester City and Manchester United look to be the only teams capable of sustaining a title challenge.

While rivals such as Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool have all shown their faults, City and United have stood out as powerhouses who look ready to deliver this year.

Intriguingly, it’s also set up for a battle of wits between old foes Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, of whom much is expected in their second seasons with their new clubs.

Read more: United urged to crack down on fans' Lukaku song with "racist stereotypes"

City have gone to another level this term and, in matches such as Saturday’s 6-0 demolition of Watford, have played flowing attacking football that makes you go ‘wow’.

United, who recorded their third 4-0 win already this campaign against Everton on Sunday, look full of belief. They have not yet reached the heights that City have, but it’s a fine line, and neither team has had a real test yet.

One look at the demeanour of the two managers tells you how much better both Manchester sides have been this season.

Last year United boss Jose Mourinho looked agitated and irritated on the touchline; now his swagger has returned. You can see that he knows that he can win the Premier League again.

FBL-ENG-PR-STOKE-MAN UTD
United boss Jose Mourinho's touchline demeanour has reflected his team's form (Source: Getty)

The two pacesetters are level at the top of the table on points, goal difference and goals scored, yet they have gone about it very differently.

While City are fluid, United are rugged. And if that makes City more attractive it may also make them more easily disrupted, as we saw last season when they won their first 10 matches in scintillating style only to falter in October.

On the other hand, the strength of United, embodied by the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, could make them more robust when we get deep into winter and those qualities become more valuable.

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League
Marouane Fellaini's physicality could help United maintain their title bid (Source: Getty)

I backed City to win the title before the season started and I wouldn’t go back on that now, but I am no more confident now because United have really impressed me.

You look for little signs and, from a City point of view, I’ve been encouraged by Raheem Sterling’s improvement.

Once seen as a weak link, I think he now looks back to his Liverpool best and it reflects very well on the work manager Pep Guardiola is doing with his squad.

One of United’s advantages is that, unlike Pep, Mourinho knows exactly what it takes to win the league in England, having done so three times in two spells with Chelsea.

His challenge will be to use his experience to keep the likes of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, who came off the bench to make a goalscoring cameo against Everton, happy, as the impact of fringe players is always a key element in a title race.

Read more: Koeman reacts to Mourinho's jibe at Everton's expenditure

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