LONDON (AP) — The imminent arrival of Robin van Persie gives Manchester United an embarrassment of riches in attack as the deposed Premier League champions begin their quest to wrest the title back from local rival Manchester City this weekend.
It also gives manager Alex Ferguson a huge selection dilemma ahead of United's first game, against Everton at Goodison Park on Monday.
If Van Persie is thrown straight into the fray, who will partner him up front out of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez? Will Rooney, currently United's star striker, drop into midfield to take on the playmaker mantle he was sometimes assigned last season? And what happens to record signing Dimitar Berbatov, who was the Premier League's top scorer in the 2010-11 season?
Whatever Ferguson decides, opposition defenses shouldn't have a moment's peace against United this season.
"He is on his way up from London for a medical later this afternoon," Ferguson said Thursday of Van Persie, who is set to cost United a reported 24 million pounds ($38 million). "We hope all the things will be tied up, although sometimes medicals do take a bit longer. I am sure he will be available for Monday's game."
City won its first title in 44 years in dramatic circumstances last season, scoring two injury-time goals in its final game to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 and top the standings on goal difference from United.
Roberto Mancini's side starts as slight favorites with British bookmakers to win the league this season, too, and begins its campaign on Sunday with a home game against promoted Southampton.
Chelsea, which lost to City 3-2 in the Community Shield on Sunday, plays its first competitive match as European champion when it visits Wigan on Sunday and has a fresh look to its forward options following the signings of attacking midfielders Oscar, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin. Fernando Torres starts the season as the No. 1 striker after the departure of Didier Drogba.
Arsenal's first game is against Sunderland, with manager Arsene Wenger hoping the recruitment of forwards Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud can counter the loss of Van Persie.