11/08/2009 07:57,
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Reds have domestic edge

Adam Bostock takes a personal look at the league season ahead...

So there you have it. The first trophy of 2009/10 is Chelsea’s but what did Sunday’s colourful clash really tell us about the new term?

Well, for one, I stand corrected on the issue of who United’s main challengers are likely to be. It wasn’t that I had dismissed Chelsea, but I certainly hadn’t bought into the hype that seems to have been building around the Blues since the end of last season.

I’m perhaps over-sensitive to London-based hacks bigging up their local boys – for example, has a team ever been eulogised in print quite like Arsenal’s Invincibles? Hats off, that was some achievement, to go the full league season unbeaten but some of the back-page prose about Pires, Henry, Bergkamp and co was a bit OTT for me.

Chelsea weren’t the team I was worried about. Yes, they had appointed a coach who’d twice won the Champions League, Abramovich’s Holy Grail, during his time with Milan but Carlo Ancelotti’s domestic record isn’t one to shout about. And without a "marquee signing", to quote their chairman Bruce Buck, I couldn’t see the Blues improving on last season's third place.

Having thought about it - and I promise this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to them winning the Community Shield, it was only on penalties after all - I see the fact that Chelsea haven’t changed anything this summer, bar their boss, as a potentially big advantage. No departures = a settled and, let’s be honest, powerful squad + a manager that might last the full season = title challengers.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have gone down in my estimation. Not for their abysmal pre-season results - they lost to Atletico Madrid on Saturday, with D-i-e-g-o Forlan scoring the winner at Anfield - but for their sale of Xabi Alonso.

Rafa Benitez’s squad still isn’t deep enough to adequately cover for the absence of their best six players – Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Torres, Mascherano and Alonso. Unless you think either Lucas Leiva or a new signing who’s arrived from Italy with an injury is going to replace Alonso as a pivotal member of the Liverpool midfield?!

Predictions are rife at this time of the season, of course, and opinions on Liverpool range from “they’ll finish outside the top four” (journalist Rob Shepherd, speaking on Talksport last week) to “this is their

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