Manchester City's run to the English Premier League title last season didn't have the romance (or the catastrophic blowup) of Liverpool's dramatic near-miss.
Despite clinching the league for the second time in three years, City still doesn't have the swagger of Chelsea. And, most painful to admit, for all the billions spent in turning the team into a major force, it doesn't have the global gravitas of its local neighbor Manchester United.
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What City does have is the pole position and status of title favorite heading into the new season. There's a growing sense that City is very much here to stay as a major player in English soccer. Lavish investment, year after year, tends to have that effect.
There was a sense that, until captain Vincent Kompany hoisted the silver token that signifies EPL dominance last May, City still had much to prove. That isn't the case anymore. Now, everyone is looking up at Manuel Pellegrini's side. And despite all the storylines surrounding new players, new coaches and renewed expectations around the league, City remains the frontrunner.
Yahoo Sports takes its annual look at the Premier League's runners and riders, and predicts how the 20 teams will finish after nine months of action.
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