After one of the shortest offseasons in footballing history, the Premier League is back for another campaign that promises to be just as frantic and dramatic as ever.
Liverpool commences their first title defence in 30 years after running away with the premiership last season and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the massive target on their backs.
Plenty of sides have strengthened and we could be in for the most wide open title race if a few things go right for the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
The race for the top four will be very interesting with Arsenal and Tottenham both optimistically hoping this “might just be their year” as they try to keep pace with their more successful compatriots.
It’s not all about the big clubs however with Leeds headlining a very entertaining trio of promoted sides plus the likes of Wolves, Sheffield United and others all looking to disrupt the big club’s party.
RELEGATION/TO STAY UP
Last season’s relegation battle went right down to the wire with the COVID enforced break helping a few clubs out.
In the end Brighton, West Ham and Aston Villa all survived with the latter needing to navigate some last day drama.
The relegation market is wide open once again heading into this season with plenty of clubs looking more than capable of dropping to the Championship.
You can almost guarantee that one of the promoted clubs will go straight back down and West Brom and Fulham find themselves joint “favourites” in this market.
It would not be at all surprising if both go down in part because of the squad depth in this frantic campaign but to avoid sitting on the fence we’ll go with the slightly less talented West Brom.
Aston Villa also seem very likely to be in for another scrap at the foot of the table, especially if they lose Jack Grealish, considering the lack of improvements to this squad that was only just good enough last season.
Both of those teams are decent options in the “to finish bottom” market as well and may be worth a small play there.
For the third and final relegation bet you can go for the sides that always seem to find themselves in danger come February or March.
In a condensed season, squad depth will be huge and there are a few sides that will be struggling to field a strong team week in, week out.
Southampton are massive overs at $9 in the relegation market and that price has to be jumped on here.
Back West Brom to be Relegated @ $2.00
Back Aston Villa to be Relegated @ $2.88
Back Southampton to be Relegated @ $9.00
You can just about pencil in six of the top ten teams with the traditional powers still good enough to finish in the top half even if they fall flat.
There will be a spot up for grabs in the top half of the table with Wolves, Leicester and Everton seemingly destined to compete for the Europa League positions and possibly mounting a brief Champions League spot assault.
Three sides appear to have the best combination of good value odds and a strong enough squad to finish in the top half of the table in Sheffield United, Newcastle and newcomers Leeds.
The Blades spent a good part of last season destined for European football before finishing with a thud to drop to a still good ninth.
Newcastle is a better side than the one that finished in 13th last season but their frustrating habit of falling flat on their face for a month is enough to scare me off backing them here despite their enticing price.
So by process of elimination, it’s time to back the story of Leeds finishing top 10 in their return to the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa will produce some absolutely scintillating football this season but they will need to get off to a fast start given how they have stumbled home in the Championship the last two seasons.
A lot of people will be backing the story for Leeds which has pushed their odds a little bit lower than they should be but it’s still worth a punt here.
Back Leeds to Finish in the Top 10 @ $3.00
If you are expecting the top six to follow chalk this season and have United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham to finish in their expected positions then there is not a lot of value there.
Leicester and Wolves are both on the next line of betting and for the latter, there is a real drive to take that next step by qualifying for the Champions League.
The big problem here is that none of the Big 6 look like they will drop off enough to open up a spot for one of the chasing pack.
It’s one I’m happy to stay out of with the prices where they are.
Assuming that the top six does follow chalk, the big question becomes what order will those six clubs finish in.
City, Liverpool and Chelsea seem destined for a title challenge and even if not, it would be stunning for them to not finish in the top four once again.
You have to expect United to be the fourth side in this group but there is value to be had in the chasing pair of Arsenal and Tottenham who have the talent to surprise many.
For Spurs and the Gunners though, there is a huge question about their ability to consistently generate the results they need to bridge that gap.
Arsenal showed how good they can be on their day on their run to the FA Cup but still need to shore up their squad and address the contract of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Even if Arsenal struggle this season, Aubameyang will use it as an audition for a transfer and is a great option for the Golden Boot award.
Tottenham still seems very top heavy and injuries to Harry Kane and/or Son could derail the season, not to mention the highly combustible nature of Jose Mourinho.
It would take a brave soul to back Arsenal over the course of a league campaign but at that price they are worth a punt.
Back Arsenal to Finish Top 4 @ $3.50
Back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Win the Golden Boot @ $6.50
After back to back historic seasons, Manchester City had a come back to earth campaign where they still finished second.
Liverpool have had their two consecutive historically good seasons, finishing second in 18/19 before claiming last season’s title.
Perhaps they will continue to be motivated to try and lift the trophy in front of a full Anfield this time around but maintaining such a high level of play in the Premier League for that long is nearly impossible.
Nobody is expecting them to crash back to earth but the idea of the champion pushing 100 points this season for the third straight campaign seems a bit far fetched.
City is the outright favourite to win the Premier League this season but at $1.73 there is not a lot of value in backing them over the course of the season, you’d almost be better putting a bet on them to win every weekend instead.
Where there is value is in the straight forecast backing them to win and another side to finish second.
You have to be impressed with Chelsea’s efforts to strengthen the squad, especially the addition of Kai Havertz who has all the makings of a truly special player for the future.
This season has the makings of a three horse race and the value is there on Manchester City to win and Chelsea to finish as runners up.
Back Man City (1st) & Chelsea (2nd) Straight Forecast @ $8