Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has dismissed rivals Manchester United as potential title challengers, instead talking up the challenge of Liverpool.
Toure's City side have not been in the best of form themselves, lying in seventh after nine games of the new campaign. However, they are still two points ahead of David Moyes' United.
Per the Mirror's Chris Richards, the Ivorian is predicting a struggle for United this season:
United will find it hard to defend the title since they have a new manager and are really struggling.
Liverpool are a big threat at the moment because they have a strong squad and their strikers — Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge — are scoring goals at will.
It should not be forgotten, of course, that Toure's elder brother, Kolo, is playing for Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool, which may influence his view of the Reds as title challengers.
However, Liverpool have begun the season in fine style, and with Philippe Coutinho now coming back to fitness to join Suarez and Sturridge in attack, they certainly carry plenty of threat.
Moyes' United, though, will consider Toure's comments a little unfair—given that City, who spent enormous sums of money in the summer, are just two points ahead at the current time.
They also are advancing with minimal effort in the Champions League and, this week, reached the League Cup quarter-final stage. It is not quite the crisis that has at times been suggested in the papers.
Indeed, there is not one club in England that looks like running away with the title this campaign, with every side challenging near the top of the league having shown weaknesses.
It is, without doubt, the most competitive the league has been in quite some time. The increase in TV money this campaign has greatly benefited those clubs who perennially find themselves in mid or lower-mid table.
As a consequence, the likes of Southampton, Swansea and Everton are all able to take points off the league's bigger sides. As a result, the upper reaches of the table are more crowded than ever before.
Toure is right, in that sense, that United will find it hard to defend their title and, at times, have been struggling—even they would admit that much.
The Ivorian, though, would be wrong to write off the Red Devils, who have made a habit of beating the odds over the last 20 years. Sir Alex Ferguson may have departed, but the essence of the club remains.