Arsene Wenger believes it will take "15 games" for this season's Premier League title picture to become clearer.
Chelsea finished eight points clear of Manchester City to win the league last season, having spent 37 weeks at the top of the table.
However, West Ham United were in the top four heading into Christmas and Wenger expects to see another surprise team in the title race this time around.
"We have a tricky start as well because we have two derbies and Liverpool in the first three games, so we have a difficult schedule from the start"
“Every year, especially in the first part of the race, during the first part of the season, one team always gets in,” he said.
“Who will it be this season? I don’t know. For a long period last year it was West Ham. When we played at Christmas at West Ham they were fourth in the league so it could be another surprise this season.
“Chelsea won it by a margin last year so they are the favourites. After that let’s see how it goes. After 15 games you will know more about who will win the Premier League.
“Last year after 12 games we were 15 points behind Chelsea, and in the next 26 we took 58 points and Chelsea 55. That means we missed our start to the season because it was after the World Cup.
“So let’s start strong this season… I believe we have the needed ingredients. But we have a tricky start as well because we have two derbies and Liverpool in the first three games, so we have a difficult schedule from the start.
“We need to maintain our game. That’s important as well - that we develop what we do well and do not stand still. That means we develop our cohesion, our passing game. If we are capable to keep the cohesion and the solidarity we have at the moment through the 38 games, we have a good chance.”
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