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The Premier League’s traditional curtain-raiser takes place on Sunday afternoon, with Chelsea and Manchester City meeting at Villa Park ahead of the domestic fixture programme getting under way

This will be something of a new-look Chelsea team this season, with Didier Drogba, Jose Bosingwa and Salomon Kalou having left Stamford Bridge, while Roman Abramovich has splashed the cash to bring in Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Not that the new boys have particularly shone in pre-season and Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Brighton was their third consecutive loss, following on from reverses against MLS All-Stars and AC Milan.

Chelsea might well have signed Victor Moses by the time this match takes place although the bookies aren’t convinced they will claim the first piece of silverware and odds of 21/10 (bet365 £200 free bets) are available about the Blues.

We should expect Fernando Torres to be Chelsea’s main striker this season following Drogba’s exit to China and the Spaniard is a 7/1 chance to score the first goal of this exchange although he might have his work cut out against a stubborn Manchester City defence.

Roberto Mancini has bemoaned the lack of new signings at Eastlands this summer although the Italian has an elegance of riches at his disposal and that is why City are favourites to retain their Premier League title.

Mancini might have given up on the prospect of signing Robin van Persie although it’s questionable as to how the Dutchman would have fitted in considering that Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko remain on the books.

City are a best price 13/10 (Blue Square bookmaker) to claim the early season bragging rights and they will be determined to make amends for twelve months ago when they clawed back a 2-0 lead against Manchester United only for the Red Devils to pinch things at the death.

Aguero is the 11/2 favourite to score the first goal of the game and a similar price can be gleaned about Carlos Tevez although the twinkle-toed David Silva is likely to offer plenty of threat in the attacking midfield position as Mancini looks to continue deploying a 3-5-2 formation ahead of the new campaign.

Judging from Chelsea’s leaky defence in close season, perhaps we should expect a few goals to be scored and a City win by a 3-1 scoreline looks really attractive at 20/1 considering that Brighton beat the Blues by the same margin last weekend.

Certainly it’s a chance for attacking midfielders and wingers to express themselves and Over 2.5 Goals looks like the bet at 10/11 with William Hill as the two Italian managers continue to experiment with their teams ahead of the new season.


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