It’s been a quiet summer for football with no major tournament in Europe but it’s given clubs and their players the chance to fully relax and recharge ahead of the 2017/18 campaign. We’ve already seen some huge transfers in the Premier League since the window opened but most sides will continue to do business until the season kicks off.
Markets have been open for some time ahead of the new campaign so how are bookies assessing the title race, relegation and everything in-between?
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea stormed to the title last season and were barely challenged as they claimed the crown. However, the West London side are only second favourites to repeat that triumph and can be picked up right now at an industry best price of 19/5 with 188Bet.
So far, the Blues have retained much of the side that won the title but rumours surrounding Diego Costa’s departure continue to gain momentum. The Spaniard is a controversial figure but Conte will need to buy carefully in order to replace a man who scored 20 league goals in a successful campaign.
Market favourites are Manchester City who are on offer at best odds of 2/1 with 10Bet, check here other Premiere League enhanced odds. City’s spending has tipped the £100m mark with Kyle Walker, Ederson and Bernardo Silva signing up this summer but do these new additions, coupled with a disappointing campaign in 2016/17, really justify this favourite’s berth?
Across Manchester, Jose Mourinho’s United are big spenders again with Romelu Lukaku arriving from Everton for an eye-watering £75m. The Red Devils finished outside of the top four last season and as impressive as Lukaku is, he is only replacing another potent goal scorer in Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
United had a tight defence last season but Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were disappointing in front of goal and the new centre forward will need better support in 2017/18.
Elsewhere, Arsenal have purchased the prolific French striker Alexandre Lacazette but remain distant outsiders for the title at a best of 12/1 with William Hill and BetFred. Just ahead of them are last season’s runners up Tottenham who can be backed at a top price of 10/1 with BetFred and Betway while the bookies are even less impressed with the Merseyside teams.
Liverpool made the Champions League spots but are out at 12/1 with Bet365 and BetBright while big spenders Everton are way behind at 90/1 with 188Bet.
Of those names, Tottenham have the ambition to go one better, having finished second last season and third in 2015/16. However, the lack of any new faces and a switch to an unfamiliar Wembley home may effectively end those hopes.
Liverpool’s price may surprise many and away from the favourites, they have the capacity within their squad to provide some real value at that 12/1 price. Everton may have spent big but a new squad will need time to settle down and the best that Toffees fans can really hope for this year is a top four finish.
So, it really comes down to Chelsea and Manchester City. As always, City have made changes to their squad but last season’s average campaign (by their own high standards) suggests that they do not really deserve to be in front at the head of the betting. Meanwhile, Chelsea needed to do little to their own squad and the smart money is very much in favour of a second successive title for the Blues.
Behind them, Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs look to be better equipped than their opponents in terms of sealing a top four finish. The introduction of Lacazette should give the Gunners more firepower and help them break back into the Champions League places while City’s quality makes this look a formality.
If there is a question mark on those top four tips, it’s over Spurs who have moved to that Wembley home for 2017/18 but they were so impressive last year that only a severe dip in form would deny Mauricio Pochettino and his men another tilt at Europe’s big prize.
For the drop
At the wrong end of the table, the newest member of the Premier League family, Huddersfield Town, are favourites for relegation at 4/6 with Bet365. It’s hard to argue with that assessment as David Wagner’s men were promoted despite finishing the regular campaign with a minus goal difference and despite some new signings, they look out of their depth here.
Naturally, the other newly-promoted sides feature heavily here with Brighton at 6/5 with William Hill and Newcastle a relatively distant best price of 9/2 with SportingBet. Huddersfield are a red hot tip but perhaps the other side to watch is Watford. Positive results against the likes of Arsenal masked an alarming slump at the end of the campaign and with an ageing and, at times, injury-prone squad, the Hornets look a good bet for the drop at 7/4 with SkyBet.
Top four places, top half finishes and more can also be speculated upon as the markets open and the squads take shape ahead of the new Premier League campaign. Will Chelsea claim back to back titles or can Manchester City justify their position as favourites? Are new boys Huddersfield Town out of their depth and destined for the drop? The answers to these and many other questions will start to unfold very soon with the new season kicking off on August 11.