Title's a flip of a coin between Man City and Liverpool - Alan Shearer analysis

By Alan ShearerMatch of the Day pundit
Match of the Day

Alan Shearer joins Gary Lineker and Ian Wright on the first Match of the Day of the season at 22:30 BST on Saturday on BBC One and the BBC Sport website for highlights of seven Premier League games. Here, he looks at the contenders in the title race, and the prospects for his former club Newcastle.

It sums up Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's relentless drive for trophies that he is chasing a hat-trick of hat-tricks this season.

Pep has already won three successive titles as a manager in Spain and Germany - and he will be desperate to do the same in England.

Recent history tells us that it is hard enough to defend the Premier League title, let alone win three in a row, and it would be an unbelievable achievement - another one to add to his list.

Pep Guardiola with the Premier League trophy
Guardiola won La Liga from 2008-11 with Barcelona and the Bundesliga from 2013-16 with Bayern. Last season he became the first manager to defend the league title since Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United in 2009.

Standing in Pep's way are Liverpool, who ran City so close last season.

To have lost the title by one point after only losing one game must have been incredibly hard to take for Jurgen Klopp and his side, but they will be full of confidence having won the Champions League.

It is going to be another incredibly tight title race and although I have backed Liverpool to edge it in my pre-season predictions, you could almost flip a coin to pick a winner out of what are two really exceptional teams.

Hat-trick heroes: the English clubs to have won three successive titles
Huddersfield1923-24 to 1925-26Herbert Chapman
Arsenal1932-33 to 1934-35Herbert Chapman, Joe Shaw and George Allison
Liverpool1981-82 to 1983-84Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan
Man Utd1998-99 to 2000-2001Sir Alex Ferguson
Man Utd2006-07 to 2008-2009Sir Alex Ferguson

Tottenham are the best of the rest and should be pretty comfortable in third place - although I don't see them as title contenders despite them spending about £100m on some major signings this summer, taking Giovani Lo Celso on loan, and buying Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon, plus Jack Clarke who has been loaned back to Leeds.

It is still going to be hard for them to close the gap on the two teams above them but they have to keep pushing forward, and now really is the time where they have to win something. A cup competition has to be one of their targets for the campaign.

For the other leading teams, it is all about the battle for fourth place.

Forget about challenging for the title, securing Champions League football is what would make this season a success for Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

All of those teams have issues, but nothing to compare to my old team Newcastle, who have different aims altogether - but more on them in a moment.

'Pogba needs to address Man Utd situation'

Let Pogba go if he wants out - Ibrahimovic

It is six years since United were champions and in that time they have not come close to regaining the title.

At first it felt strange when they were not contenders, but now we are getting used to it - and it would be a surprise if they got close to City and Liverpool this season after finishing 32 points off the top last time out.

I have backed them to finish fourth but I have concerns about their firepower after they sold Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan on deadline day, and did not replace him.

Shearer's top-four prediction
1. Liverpool2. Man City3. Tottenham4. Man Utd

They have got Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard in their attack, and some young talent in Mason Greenwood in reserve, but they do look light up front.

Then there is the Paul Pogba situation.

My issue with him is that the only time we have heard him speak about his future was when he was making a promotional appearance in Tokyo during the summer, and said it could be time for a "new challenge".

Well, now it is definitely time for him to come out and address that situation. If he is not leaving Old Trafford, then he needs to come out and say that he is staying, that he is fully committed to the club, and that he will give his all on the pitch.

Until that happens, he is just letting other people speak for him.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the one facing the questions about what is going on, but there is only one person who can quash the rumours and that is the man who hinted a couple of months ago that he might be on his way - Pogba himself.

'Chelsea have issues at both ends of the pitch'

Frank Lampard: Transfer ban, being a 'modern dad' & risking his Chelsea legacy

One area United did get right this summer was at the back.

They were very weak in that department last season but they have made the key signing they needed in the shape of England centre-half Harry Maguire.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka will improve them at right-back too, and you can see how much importance Solskjaer puts on getting his defence right from the money he has spent there - £130m on two signings.

I am not convinced Arsenal have done the same with their spending spree this summer, which was a bit strange because it came after reports that they did not have much money.

Yes, they have brought in David Luiz and Kieran Tierney but I am not sure that will stop them conceding, because I am not a huge fan of Luiz defensively.

But at least Arsenal will carry a big threat up front. From an ex-striker's point of view, their attack is going to be very exciting and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe are going to score a lot of goals.

Chelsea need to be 'competitive straight away' - Giroud

Meanwhile, Chelsea might have problems at both ends of the pitch.

In central defence, they look short of numbers after Luiz's departure. They have got Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger - who is out with a knee injury - plus Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori.

They also look short of goals after Eden Hazard's departure. They could not even try to replace him because of their transfer embargo, and life without him is going to be very difficult.

It does seem odd not to be talking about Chelsea as potential title winners, because that has been the case most seasons since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

But their circumstances are different right now. I am delighted that Frank Lampard has been given the opportunity to manage them, but he should get a little bit of leeway because his hands have been tied when it came to strengthening the squad.

'Life and soul has been sucked out of Newcastle'

'Just judge me over a little bit of time' - Bruce

Sadly my old club Newcastle are more likely to be at the other end of the table.

There is a lot of anger among the fans - towards the owner Mike Ashley, not so much the new Magpies manager Steve Bruce, who has found himself in a very difficult situation through no fault of his own.

Ashley has said himself in interviews that he has not done a very good job as Newcastle's owner - they are his words, not mine - and the supporters' animosity towards him is simply not going to change while he remains in charge.

Newcastle's net spend in the 12 years since Ashley bought the club works out at less than £6m a year, which is nothing in the modern era, and the issue the fans have is that the life and soul has basically been sucked out of the club.

This season? Well, I am still confident we will have enough to stay up, but I just think there is a lot resting on Joelinton's shoulders because, straightaway, he is the player the team needs to score goals.

The players who scored most of them for us last season - Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez - have both gone now, so it is really down to him.

That is not me trying to make life more difficult for him by putting pressure on him, it is just a matter of fact - he needs to hit the ground running.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.