'Mind-blowing' – Paul Merson names the team to beat in the Premier League

Paul Merson believes ‘mind-blowing’ Chelsea are the team to beat in the Premier League this season and says Manchester City ‘have to sign’ Harry Kane to compete with the Blues following Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge.

Champions League holders Chelsea kick-started their Premier League campaign with a routine 3-0 win over London rivals Crystal Palace on the opening weekend of the new season.

Club-record signing Lukaku missed that fixture as he was still quarantining following his £97.5m move from Inter Milan, but is in line to make his second Blues debut on Sunday against Arsenal.

Merson believes teams are now turning up to face Chelsea ‘knowing they’re beaten’ and says defending champions Man City need Kane to hold off a title challenge from Thomas Tuchel’s side.

Manchester City have made a number of attempts to sign England captain Kane but Tottenham are determined not to lose their talisman, rejecting offers worth more than £100m in recent weeks.

Former Arsenal and England star Merson told Sky Sports: ‘Chelsea are paying £90m for a player they let go in Romelu Lukaku. They don’t care!

‘They don’t think: “Everyone is going to go mad that we’re signing a player for three times what we sold him for!” They just go and sign him.

‘At the time he wasn’t ready for Chelsea – he’s ready now, he’s a better player all round. I think he’s a great signing, and a game-changer for Chelsea. Man City have to buy Harry Kane.

‘Chelsea reminded me of Man City against Crystal Palace. They just completely and utterly dominated Palace, at the highest level, like we see with Man City a lot of the time at home.

‘Teams turn up and they know they’re beaten, and I think we’re going to get that at Chelsea now. It was mind-blowing.

‘And what are they doing at their academy? Tammy Abraham has gone. They’ve brought through Trevoh Chalobah, who looked established at the highest level on Saturday, they’ve got Reece James, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi. It’s mind-blowing.

‘Frank Lampard did a great job starting this off, bringing them in, but these kids have been at Chelsea since nine or 10 years of age, and they deserve a lot of credit for this.

‘Every game counts this season, and I mean that. Man City are behind already. People will say: “Oh it’s only one game” but I can’t see the top four dropping too many points this season. I think we’re seeing a gulf between the top four and the rest now.’

While Chelsea began the season with an emphatic victory over Palace, defending champions Manchester City were beaten 1-0 by Tottenham. Pep Guardiola’s side welcome Premier League new boys Norwich City to the Etihad this weekend.

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