Essien, 24, told The Sun: "We are favourites, of course. We are the best and will win the title. It is as simple as that. The standard for us is to win the title and win all the titles we are competing for.
"Everybody expects us to win the title and that is what we are focused on doing. We don't care about United - what is most important is that we win all our matches and the rest will be history. I don't think their start has eased the pressure on us.
"There are teams who have shown early promise like Manchester City so it doesn't mean we are free from the pressure of everybody expecting us to win the title. We are not under-estimating any team but with this attitude we should win the title."
Essien added: "United might be in a difficult position right now but they might bounce back.
"We should be concentrating on getting maximum points not only to fend off the challenge from United but also the early pacesetters."