Boyata braced for tough test
Dedryck Boyata concedes that the improvement of others will make it tough for Manchester City to defend their Premier League title.
City have taken the top flight crown in two of the last three seasons and will start the 2014/15 campaign among the favourites to taste further glory.
They are, however, unlikely to have things all their own way.
A 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday has highlighted how competitive Arsene Wenger's new-look side will be this term.
Chelsea have also strengthened, Liverpool have reinvested the fee they received for Luis Suarez and Manchester United are expected to be back among the frontrunners now that they have the vastly experienced Louis van Gaal at the helm.
Boyata acknowledges that the battle for domestic supremacy will be keenly contested, but insists that City are ready to face the challenge head on.
He told Sky Sports: "We know this year is going to be really difficult because a team like Arsenal has done everything in the transfer market to get the best players they can.
"They have bought some good players and I think this year will be tough with Arsenal, Chelsea, United. It will be tough."
Boyata admits a disappointing showing against Arsenal in the traditional curtain-raiser to the season has left City a little flat, but is refusing to make excuses for their performance.
Manuel Pellegrini opted to start without the likes of Joe Hart, David Silva and Sergio Aguero and paid the price as Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud netted at Wembley Stadium.
Boyata added: "We are not talking about the missing players, we are talking about the players that were on the pitch today.
"It was a hard game and the feeling is that everyone is really down because we wanted to leave this game with a big win."