Manchester United beats Chelsea in oddsmakers' premier league.
By Bob Bensch
Manchester United is the favorite of British bookmakers to defend its Premier League title.
Chelsea and neighbor Manchester City will pose the greatest challenge to the record 19-time English soccer champion.
Manchester United is a 6-4 chance with William Hill to win its 13th title in the Premier League's 20-year history.
Chelsea, with three titles in the past seven seasons, is the second favorite at 11-4 ahead of 4-1 shot Manchester City.
"With City coming up behind
them, it's not going to be like it was in the '90s and '00s," William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said of United in a telephone interview.
"They definitely have got a couple rivals for the top dog, but they've got enough to see them over the line this season."
United was forced to replace several veterans after goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, 40, and midfielder Paul Scholes, 36, retired and defenders John O'Shea and Wes Brown signed with Sunderland.
It brought in David De Gea from Atletico Madrid to fill van der Sar's place, along with winger Ashley Young from Aston Villa and defender Phil Jones from Blackburn.
Chelsea made its biggest signing in June when it hired Andre Villas-Boas to replace the fired Carlo Ancelotti as coach.
The 33-year-old, who led Porto to the Europa League and Portuguese league and cup titles in his only season in charge, previously worked at Chelsea under manager Jose Mourinho.
Manchester City continued spending this season by getting Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero and defenders Gael Clichy from Arsenal and Stefan Savic from Partizan Belgrade.
Owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed has spent more than $1 billion since buying the club in 2008, prompting United manager Alex Ferguson to call City his "noisy neighbors".
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