WC hangover clouds PL kick-off | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 10, 2018

WC hangover clouds PL kick-off

There is little time for the Premier League's stars to shake off a World Cup hangover as less than a month on from Russia's summer showpiece, the chase to catch champions Manchester City begins in earnest on Friday.

On top of the quick turnaround from the World Cup, a shortened transfer window that closes 24 hours before the season kicks off has left many sides scrambling at the last minute to strengthen their squads, none more so than Manchester United.

The Red Devils raise the curtain on the campaign at home to Leicester on Friday night hoping to put a troubled pre-season dominated by manager Jose Mourinho's outbursts behind them.

Mourinho has rounded on the club's hierarchy for failing to strengthen in his opinion despite the signings of Brazilian international midfielder Fred and Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot.

As United dithered, Liverpool emerged as second favourites for the title behind City after splashing £170 million on goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.

"The other clubs who compete with us are really strong and already have fantastic teams. Or they are investing massively like Liverpool, who are buying everything and everybody," warned Mourinho. "If we don't make our team better it will be a difficult season for us."

By contrast, Liverpool are well-placed to hit the ground running ahead of Sunday's kick-off at home to West Ham as Virgil van Dijk, Keita and Fabinho missed out on the World Cup, while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane bowed out at the group stage with Egypt and Senegal.

Yet, Liverpool will remember how they finished 25 points back in the league as Pep Guardiola's men romped to the title with a record 100 points.

CITY STILL FAVOURITES

City haven't dipped into the deep pockets of their Abu Dhabi owners as significantly as Guardiola's first two summers in charge, but have still strengthened with club record signing Riyad Mahrez.

No side since United nine years ago have retained the title with Chelsea twice and Leicester failing to even make the top four in past three seasons.

Despite missing a host of World Cup stars, City looked in ominous form as they dismissed Chelsea 2-0 to lift the Community Shield at the weekend but face a tough start as Arsenal begin the post-Arsene Wenger era at the Emirates on Sunday.

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