Premier League Betting: Winner without the top two, where's the value?
According to the bookmakers it should be a two-horse race for this season’s Premier League title with Manchester City the even money favourites. Last year’s champions Liverpool have been given an implied 36% chance of repeating their success with odds of 7/4, however I’ve taken a look at the prices to win the league title without these two northern powerhouses.
Manchester United - 6/4
At the head of the market we have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United. The Reds enjoyed a successful second half of the season going 14 games unbeaten from February until the end of campaign, resulting in a third place finish. The addition of Bruno Fernandes back in January looks to be one of the best signings United have made in recent times. His superb performances helped propel them up the table as well as having a positive effect on the other players around him, namely a certain Paul Pogba.
Despite clear improvement in recent months I do think the bookmakers have overreacted a little to Manchester United and I think they are rather short in several markets ahead of this new campaign. David De Gea’s recent mistakes have been clear to see even without social media, and the dropped points at home to West Ham and Southampton at Old Trafford in the last few weeks of the season showed they are far from the finished article. The Jadon Sancho saga still drags on this summer as we expected and United could well be a signing away from challenging, but at 6/4 I would not be rushing to back them in this market.
Chelsea - 9/4
Frank Lampard has received many plaudits for his opening season at Chelsea. A top-four finish and an FA Cup final were on the menu for the Blues even with the club unable to bring in any new transfers. That ban has now been lifted and the arrivals of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech have already been confirmed; and, with other potential names such as Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Declan Rice having been rumoured with potentially making the switch to The Bridge it really is exciting times for the west London outfit.
Chelsea’s issues last season came at the back. Astonishingly they conceded more times than any other team who finished in the top 10, leaking 54 goals. If Chelsea want to progress and challenge the top two this needs to be addressed. Long term success to the levels Roman Abramovich demands cannot be sustained when defensive frailties are so apparent. However, there have also been rumours that Thiago Silva could make the move to London, in what in my opinion would be just the sort of signing that they need. There’s a certain element of excitement around how Chelsea could potentially perform this new season and despite my doubt about Lampard’s ability when coming up against the top two in the league, I think they could improve on their most recent fourth place finish.
Tottenham - 8/1
There’s then a bit of a jump in the market to Spurs who can be found at 8/1 to win the league without Manchester City and Liverpool. I’ve been rather underwhelmed with Jose Mourinho at Spurs since he arrived. There have been glimpses of brilliance, although many fans are unconvinced by his style of play which some claim is now outdated.
With a fit Harry Kane spearheading the attack you always feel that Spurs have potential to score goals, and an unbeaten run of seven to end last season - including wins over Arsenal and Leicester - showed some signs of positivity. If Tottenham are to get anywhere near the top-two this season, though, it is clear that they must improve massively and also must keep Harry Kane. At 8/1 I wouldn’t be rushing to back this price.
Arsenal - 10/1
At a double figure price in the market, 10/1 does give some food for thought when it comes to Arsenal. The Gunners claimed the FA Cup last season and as a result will be in the Europa League once again this term. The way Mikel Arteta’s side finished the campaign - with wins over Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea - showed that they have the ability to be competitive under the approach of the Spaniard.
Just like Chelsea, Arsenal need to improve at the back; an 8th place finish and a goal difference of +8 with forwards Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe at their disposal is simply not good enough. I do think this price will shorten in the coming weeks although one major factor this summer will be ensuring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains at the club. He’s scored more goals than any other player in the Premier League since arriving at Arsenal (70) and has proved he has a pedigree for the big games, bagging a brace in the FA Cup final. At 10/1 I think this is a respectable price however the Gunners will need to be quick out of the blocks with games against Man City, Liverpool, Man United and Leicester before the end of October.
Leicester City - 16/1
Leicester sat third in the Premier League table for the majority of last season before dropping away at the death and out of Champions League places. The loss of James Maddison and Ben Chilwell at the end of the campaign was a huge blow for the Foxes and it remains to be seen whether or not either will still be at the club next year.
I think it will be very hard for Leicester to progress from the 9-0 highs the 2019/20 season, especially with both north London clubs underperforming in the way they did. Jamie Vardy will be 34 in the new year and his goals have been a vital part of their success in recent seasons.
His ageing legs will need support up front which could come in the form of Kelechi Iheanacho who has shown promise when appearing from the bench. To overcome Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham is simply too big an task for the Foxes in my opinion and 16/1 is not a price I’d be considering.
Wolves - 16/1
The work Nuno Santo has done at Wolves in his time at Molineux has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s made them one of the toughest sides to beat in the league and has given them real identity when reaching the Europa League quarter-final, losing out to eventual winners Sevilla. I don’t think they possess the quality in enough areas to push their way into the top-six just yet, but it will be interesting to see how they perform in the league without the Europa League. They narrowly missed out on qualifying last season after finishing 8th, and without the trips to the continent every other Thursday it may well benefit their overall finishing points tally.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the calibre of a manager such as Don Carlo Ancelotti attracts some star-signings to Merseyside this transfer window. I think he’s an excellent appointment for the club however they need to improve on the pitch. A model of inconsistency at times last season, the Toffees endured their worst finish to a Premier League season since 2004 (12th). I fully expect a top-half finish from Everton next season but I’d be having them a three figure price in the ‘Winner without Manchester City and Liverpool’ market.
Best of the rest
Away from the above in the market, pressers Southampton have been given odds of 66/1 along with West Ham, newcomers Leeds, and Newcastle. I think the Saints should be shorter than those other three sides here and could be one to watch in the new term, however I don’t think this is the market to be backing them in.
Verdict - Chelsea 9/4
Manchester United’s improvement in the second half of last season simply cannot be ignored. When they are in full-flow they are a delight to watch moving forward but for me they become unstuck too easily at times and the levels of consistency required to battle for a title with Liverpool and City is another major step up.
It paves the way for Chelsea who I think can step up and finish third this season. It’s hard to see beyond the top-two, but with Chelsea flouting the cheque book once again this summer I believe they can step up and the Blues would be my selection here at the current prices.