Man Utd and Man City title challenges analysed on The Debate Live

Andy Townsend says Man Utd have the strength to be a force in the Premier League title race this season, while Ollie Holt insists the team that finishes above United will win the league, and that team will be rivals Man City.

Both Manchester clubs have had identical starts to the Premier League season, sitting top of the table after five games following thumping wins at the weekend.

United beat Everton 4-0 at Old Trafford, while City saw off Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road, and speaking on The Debate -Live on Monday evening, Townsend says Jose Mourinho’s side will be challenging come May.

“I think United will be really close this year, I really do. I think City clearly have an amazing squad, and when they play at their very best, they produce a level of football few can get close to.

“I think over course and distance, Jose Mourinho’s sides have always been ultra-competitive. I do feel that United will be very, very close.

“Jose will do whatever it takes to win. Whether that means leaving players out, playing them in different positions, over these 10 months I think he’ll always be right in there with this United team.

“I think United have shown that they have that bit that Fergie’s team always had. It wasn’t a case of getting out there with a 2-0 defeat, it was a case of going to Old Trafford and getting beat by five.”

The Mail on Sunday’s Ollie Holt referenced City’s start to the campaign last season, where Pep Guardiola’s side won their first six league games, as a warning that it may be too early to make title predictions.

However, Holt added that both United and City look impressive this season, and predicts the blue side of Manchester will pip the red side to the Premier League title.

“Some of us got burned last year after Manchester City’s incredible start last year. I remember being at Manchester City’s win at Manchester United last September and afterwards writing some very florid stuff about the dawn of a new era in the Premier League, and then City went downhill a little bit from there.

“So it is early, but I do find it very hard to look beyond them and United. I think the team that finishes above United will win the Premier League, and I think that team will be City.

“There’s an old adage about defences winning titles, but if City win it this year I think it will be their attacking players that win it for them.

“But at the back I think [John] Stones has been good, I love watching him play, and [Kyle] Walker has been impressive too. There’s hope there for City.”

United face Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea in their next six games, and Darren Bent said that we will find out the true quality of Mourinho’s side over that period.

Bent said: “That’s when we’re going to find out how good they really are. With Paul Pogba out, he’s started the season really well.

“With those next six games, that’s going to tell us an awful lot about his squad and how good they are. I don’t think they’ve really been tested, apart from Everton at the start of the second half.”

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