Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says neighbours United are favourites to win the Premier League - because they have two of the best strikers.
The Red Devils have
bought Robin van Persie from Arsenal for £24m
and will pair him up front with Wayne Rooney.
Summer signings of top six clubs
- Manchester City:
Jack Rodwell £12m
- Manchester United:
Robin van Persie £24m, Shinji Kagawa £12m, Nick Powell £3m
Olivier Giroud £13m*, Santi Cazorla £12m*, Lukas Podolski £11m*
Gylfi Sigurdsson £8m*, Jan Vertonghen £8m*
Gael Bigirimana undisclosed, Romain Amalfitano free, Curtis Good undisclosed, Vurnon Anita £6.7m*
Eden Hazard £32m*, Oscar £25m, Marko Marin £7m*, Thorgan Hazard £1m*
* reported fee
"Van Persie was the best striker last year," Mancini said. "With Rooney they will have one of the best couple of strikers in the Premier League.
"I was serious last week when I said Manchester United were the favourites."
City won the title in thrilling fashion on the final day of last season -
scoring twice in stoppage time against QPR to beat United to the trophy on goal difference.
It was the first time they had won the league title for 44 years, in contrast to the 12 times United have won the trophy since the Premier League's inception in 1992.
And Mancini believes that history and experience gives Sir Alex Ferguson's side the edge.
"They have been playing for the title every year for 20 years," he said. "We can't change this situation in one year.
"Any team that bought Van Persie would be better. I felt he was going to stay at Arsenal or sign for another team, but not us.
"We already have four strikers. It was impossible for us to sign another one."
Premier League managers poised for start of new season
City will open their defence against newly promoted Southampton at the Etihad on Sunday, but they will be missing Micah Richards, who is expected to be sidelined for another month with an ankle injury sustained while on Olympic duty.
Gareth Barry remains troubled by an abdominal problem, but goalkeeper Joe Hart could be fit after missing both the Community Shield and
England's midweek win over Italy
with a back problem.
Off the pitch, the Blues have appointed former Barcelona general manager Ferran Soriano as their new chief executive.
Soriano fills the vacancy created by the
departure of Garry Cook
last season and takes up his position on 1 September.
"The process of finding a chief executive officer has been deliberate, far-reaching and exhaustive," said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak
"His experience in football and in the wider commercial world make him exceptionally well equipped to lead Manchester City through its continued evolution."