LONDON: Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo conceded champions Manchester City are hot favorites to retain the Premier League title after his side's defeat in the Community Shield at Villa Park yesterday.
The 10-man Blues lost 3-2 and Di Matteo admitted he has a tough task in closing the gap between the sides - despite spending around £65 million on summer signings Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar.
"They are the champions," said Di Matteo. "We have to catch up 25 points from last season. They are the favorites, there's no doubt about it. Manchester United will be chasing City as well, they have a strong squad."
Chelsea took the lead yesterady through Fernando Torres' 40th minute strike but always looked likely to lose their advantage following the dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic in the 42nd minute for a dangerous studs-up challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov.
Di Matteo suggested the decision to show Ivanovic a red card may have been a touch harsh and cited it as the turning point in the game.
"I watched it," he said. "There was no intention from our player to hurt the opponent. It was a sliding tackle - sometimes red cards are given and sometimes not.
"It was a competitive game today with both teams trying to win the game, both sides were very determined.
"The sending off probably changed the game in favour of City. I think we competed very well up to that point and I was happy to go in at half-time with that lead.
"The second-half was always going to be very difficult with 10 men."