Chelsea can stop United's historic four-in-a-row bid

THE Community Shield is never of major significance to the top managers, but it&rsquo;s one-nil to Carlo Ancelotti after his first tussle with likely title rival, Sir Alex Ferguson. The sides looked very evenly matched, but Cristiano Ronaldo is a huge loss for United and if they get a couple of injuries to big players, I think they will have problems. It is key for Chelsea that they have kept onto their best players and, although the Champions League is an obvious target, regaining the Premier League crown after three years has to be the number one priority.<br /><br />Arsenal have a mightily difficult start to the season, not least because of the two tough games they now face against Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers. However, Arsene Wenger&rsquo;s sides are always at their best with their backs to the wall so, although they may struggle in the first few weeks, I confidently expect them to retain their Big Four spot. Liverpool are interesting title contenders, but they&rsquo;ve lost Xabi Alonso which will be a big blow, and if anything happens to Torres or Gerrard, I can see them falling short.<br /><br />While a strong start to the league isn&rsquo;t a prerequisite for winning the title, the impetus it provides can be invaluable and with an opening five games against Hull, Sunderland, Fulham, Burnley and Stoke, I&rsquo;d be shocked if Chelsea weren&rsquo;t top in mid-September. That provides us with an excellent trading opportunity on the spreads &ndash; punters buying Chelsea season points at 83.5 pre-season could always look to trade out after the opening five games, guaranteeing a profit. I still think they will win the league though so wouldn&rsquo;t put anyone off backing them in the outright market at 11/5 with Boylesports.<br /><br />I have already given my view on Man City&rsquo;s chances this season and the closer it gets to the start of the campaign, the more I feel they are completely over-hyped. OK, so they probably will steamroller some sides with such a strong attack, but they are going to take time to gel and Mark Hughes is going to have an almighty task on his hand to keep all of his stars happy. They are definitely capable of finishing in the top six, but I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re anyway near as far clear of teams like Everton, Spurs and Aston Villa as the bookmakers think.<br /><br />At the other end of the table, Burnley have a nightmare opening with Man United, Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool in their first five fixtures, but if they can hang onto the coat-tails of their rivals, I can see them having enough fight to stay up. Portsmouth, on the other hand, seem to be a club going backwards rapidly and if the rumours are true about them going into administration, they will find it virtually impossible to come back from a points deduction. Added to this, they&rsquo;ve lost most of their best players and the 2/1 about them going down could look incredible value in a few weeks.<br /><strong><br />Pointers...</strong><br />Chelsea to win Premier League at 11/5 with Boylesports<br />Buy Chelsea points at 83.5 with Sporting Index (potentially trade out after first five games)<br />Lay Man City w/o Big Four at 6/5 on Betdaq<br />Portsmouth to be relegated at 2/1 general