The Premier League season is nearly upon us and around half a billion has been spent by teams updating their squads/Manchester City’s full-backs.
This close season the budgets have appeared to be almost unlimited with Bournemouth splashing out £20 million on Nathan Ake, Leicester City splurging £17 million on Harry Maguire and not to mention Man City paying a ridiculous £51 million for Kyle Walker. It has been insane.
But if some of the weird and wonderful transfer dealings are anything to by, this could mean we’re in for the most exciting Premier League season yet.
One thing this crazy spending hasn’t done is made it easy to predict who will be crowned Premier League champions in May.
Manchester City should do the business with the money they’ve spent but they were favourites last season in Pep Guardiola’s first year in English football, and finished a huge 15 points off the pace.
Last season, I tipped Chelsea at 13/2 to win the Prem and still think they are the best available price this time around at 7/2. I simply cannot have Man City at a best price of 19/10 over a 38-game season. No matter how many billions they spend on defenders I still can’t see them grinding out 1-0 wins very often.
You can also get 7/2 about Manchester United and while Jose Mourinho has added 25-goal man Romelu Lukaku to improve on a lacklustre 54 strikes in the last campaign – fewer than Bournemouth – I don’t think they’ll have enough to overcome Chelsea.
The Blues were superb last season and, despite reports Antonio Conte has been frustrated in the transfer market lately, they’ve still manage to fork out over £100 million revamping their spine with Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata all coming in.
At the other end of the table the likes of Huddersfield, Burnley, Brighton and Watford are all short prices to go down so I don’t fancy backing them much.
One team who don’t inspire me with confidence are Swansea under Paul Clement. I think 9/4 is a fair price to see the Swans sink into the Championship.
If you’re after a surprise relegation candidate then look no further than West Brom, who are a big 6/1 to go down. Some might say I’m just picking on them because I’m a Villa fan and point out they finished 10th last season. But if you get your binoculars out you’ll spot they were only 11 points off the drop zone.
Any of the teams in the bottom half of the table are capable of being sent down to the Championship, all it takes is a bit of bad form and soon you don’t know where the next win is coming from.
Playing four centre-backs across the back line has worked OK for Tony Pulis at times, but if the Baggies start to struggle then he could find himself in a prickly position at the Hawthorns.
So, 16/1 for Pulis to be the first Premier League manager to leave his post seems like a decent punt, as does the same price on Clement getting the boot from Swansea for the reasons mentioned above.
Rafa Benitez is the 3/1 favourite because he is apparently unhappy with a lack of transfer activity at Newcastle, but August is a long month and Mike Ashley could well get his chequebook out, so I don’t fancy that price.
If you think the 16/1 duo are too unlikely then Craig Shakespeare at 10s looks good to me, too. We know Leicester’s owners will sack even god himself, as we saw when their messiah Claudio Ranieri got the boot last season. So don’t write off Shakespeare being handed his p45.
Christmas cheer and woe
If you can’t wait a whole season to see your investments profit then why not have a dabble on the festive markets?
I think there could be plenty of Christmas cheer down at Anfield this year as I’m plumping for Liverpool to be top at Christmas at 8/1.
Call me mad, but a lot of Johnny-come-latlies were tipping them for the title towards the festive period last year after their impressive start, and they haven’t rocked the boat too much in terms of transfers.
There are a few concerns, namely the ever-increasing rumours Barcelona are after Philippe Coutinho, and they have the Champions League to deal with. But so do Man City (9/4), Chelsea (4/1) and Man United (4/1). Those three prices don’t interest me much.
Looking further down the league, Huddersfield are the runaway favourites to be propping up the table when we’re tucking into our turkey and trimmings, but 2/1 doesn’t interest me at all. You just never know with these promoted teams.
Having just said that, I cannot see why the Terriers and Brighton (6/1) are so far apart in the betting so I’m going to have a bit on the south coast side to perform the worst in the first five months of the season. Plus, I fancy a bit of loose change on Stoke at 16s as an outside bet.
We’ve talked about how the teams might perform, but with all the money flying around we should be graced with some incredible individual talent this season.
The Premier League top scorer betting provides a bit of value usually but not if you fancy Harry Kane to make it a hat-trick of golden boots this season. I’ve backed him the last two seasons but I really don’t fancy him at 10/3. One bad injury and you’ve done your money (granted, he was out for some of last season and he still managed it).
One player who really impressed me last season was Gabriel Jesus. He hit the ground running after his January move from Palmeiras, scoring seven in 10, and if he keeps that up this season he’s an absolute steal at 9/1.
There is plenty of each-way value around, too, and one I like is Javier Hernandez at a huge 40/1. He netted a Premier League goal ever 130 minutes during his time at Manchester United and is likely to start nearly every game as West Ham’s top forward, so he’s got to be worth an each-way punt at those odds.
Jermain Defoe’s move to Bournemouth could also see him add to the 15 goals he scored last season as long as he is on penalty duty for the Cherries. He is 66/1 to top the goalscorer charts which is great each-way value for those bookies paying four places.
Man City’s new signing Bernardo Silva, an attacking midfielder, is the same price with some bookies. Have a word with yourselves!
Player of the Year
I love to have a bet on this market even though it is a tough one to get right – but it usually offers a good bit of value. One price that nearly poked me in the eye when I was looking was the massive 20/1 available on Kevin De Bruyne.
He is 12s in some places and he was on fire last season, plus if City win the title and he grabs a boat-load of assists again then he’s in with a great shout.
One player I thought would have a brilliant debut season in the Premier League was Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and while he didn’t, he certainly seemed to improve so 40/1 looks big for him.
Staying in Manchester, City’s Raheem Sterling at 66/1 cannot be ignored. He’s got the potential to be one of the best players in the League and at those odds why not have a punt? This could be his year.
Winner – Chelsea 7/2 (William Hill – bet HERE)
Top at Christmas – Liverpool 8/1 (Boylesports – bet HERE)
Good luck and follow The Set Odds for more tips!