Mark Hughes expects the battle for the Premier League to be more competitive this season, with the traditional ‘big four’ of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal coming under pressure from teams below.
Hughes is hoping to have a big say in the outcome with Manchester City, while Tottenham and Aston Villa have begun the season in impressive fashion.
“This year has the potential to be as open as it has ever been,” Hughes said after City’s 1-1 draw at Wigan. “The top four teams will drop points. That has been evident at the beginning of the season and it will continue.
“What everyone is trying to do is get into a position by March or April where you are still in contention and you can be a factor. There are going to be a lot of games of real significance at the end of this season rather than it just petering out really for some teams. That has to be good for the Premier League.”
City’s hopes of registering their first top-flight away win at Wigan were undermined by the dismissal of Pablo Zabaleta for a second bookable offence 25 minutes from time.
But, Hughes resisted the temptation to attack referee Alan Wiley, preferring instead to praise the official whose fitness was brought into question by Manchester united boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He was in an excellent position – he had kept up with play very well,” he said. “He made a wrong call but his positioning was excellent. Well done Mr Wiley.”