We’ve had six rounds of Premier League matches to date and the table is now starting to take shape, with Liverpool blazing a searing trail at the top and Manchester City firmly on their heels. It’s a virtual certainty that we’ll see the same two teams challenging for the title and getting near the 100-point mark again, although the battle for a top-four spot could be altogether more open.
There are realistically ten of the twenty top flight teams who could be qualifying for the Champions League come the end of the season. While Man City and Liverpool seem like “locks” for the top two places, third and fourth place are firmly up for grabs as was the case last term where Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United landed in a heap.
Frank Lampard’s team have endured a challenging start to the campaign although the former Derby manager now has the Blues playing some inventive football even if there are defensive frailties within the team. However, they are close to the 15/8 mark and are currently playing catch-up.
Tottenham are the only team trading at odds-on for a top four spot, although Spurs haven’t yet demonstrated that they deserve to be an 8/15 chance to continue dining at Europe’s top table, with some question marks over the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino not proving particularly helpful at this moment in time.
Similarly, Arsenal have been really unconvincing in some of their matches although you have to say that the Gunners have enjoyed a strong return of points at this juncture and that explains why they’re regarded as slightly more likely to break into the top-four than to be left just outside of the quartet. Perhaps their strength is the fact that other teams are weaker.
Manchester United previously displayed title-winning form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the Norwegian replaced Jose Mourinho has caretaker manager last season, although the Red Devils have regressed back to serving up mediocre performances and the bookies are more than happy to take them on when it comes to this betting market.
The Red Devils and Chelsea are currently regarded as no more than Europa League qualifiers, although one team who continues to shorten for a Premier League top four spot is Leicester City, with the Foxes latest act being to beat Tottenham Hotspur after trailing against these opponents. Brendan Rodgers’ team are now 5/1 from 6/1 in the betting and their continued strong form could see them eventually leapfrog the two teams above them in the market.
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Manchester City Top-Four Betting Set to Be Suspended
There comes a point with a betting market where a selection is so likely to win that the bookmakers stop taking bets on it. That’s going to be the case with Manchester City securing a top-four spot soon, with odds of 1/250 with Bethard now there for show considering that you have to place £250 on the English champions to land a £1 profit.
City’s recent 8-0 mauling of Watford suggests that the previous 3-1 reverse at the hands of Norwich City was nothing more than a blip, with Pep Guardiola’s side having amassed 98 points in the Premier League last season and they could yet surpass that total as they look to land a consecutive hat-trick of titles.
Guardiola was able to leave out Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus for that demolition of the Hornets and, even though the Champions League is arguably the biggest priority this season, it’s nigh on impossible to consider that City will take their eye off the ball to the extent that four other sides will finish above them in the domestic standings.
Liverpool Relentless in Quest for the Title
Jurgen Klopp is already having a tough job keeping a lid on the expectation levels of supporters after six straight Premier League victories means that not only are they top of the table but they have also established a five-point gap over Manchester City, the only other side who can realistically challenge them for top honours this term.
Liverpool have effectively started the 2018/19 campaign how they ended the 2017/18 season, with the Reds outscoring opponents thanks to the front three causing untold problems for opposition defences, while those well-known marauding full-backs are also assisting plenty of goals for the Merseyside outfit.
It’s strange to think that only two seasons ago, Klopp’s team were squeezing into the Champions League places considering that they look absolutely nailed at 1/150 with William Hill to be top four material once again. As with City, their top-four odds are likely to be suspended after a handful more games and it appears that the other teams are playing for third and fourth.
Spurs Odds Rock Solid Despite Flimsy Form
A return of eight points from six Premier League games played doesn’t suggest that Tottenham Hotspur are heading for a top-four spot this season, although they are regarded by the bookmakers as far more likely to qualify for the Champions League than neighbours Arsenal, London rivals Chelsea or Manchester United.
Spurs spent a lot of last season occupying third place and it might be said that their deep Champions League run which saw them reach the final had an adverse effect on domestic form and ultimately led to Mauricio Pochettino’s side finishing in fourth place and just a point ahead of the Gunners.
However, there does appear to be issues at the club this term despite the fact that they’re now playing at a new-look White Hart Lane rather than Wembley Stadium. The manager continues to make comments which suggest his long-term future lies away from the club and performances are not particularly convincing.
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Arsenal Are Wobbling But Remain Odds-On
Quite frankly, it’s hard to work Arsenal out this season. A return of eleven points from six games played is pretty impressive and it also means that the team are just two points behind a Manchester City team who are currently odds-on to retain their Premier League title.
On the flip side, the Gunners have been making heavy weather of things in many of their matches. They were recently reduced to ten men against Aston Villa and trailed 1-0 and 2-1 before managing to stage a comeback victory, while they also allowed Tottenham to lead 2-0 at the Emirates before landing a 2-2 draw.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has started the season well and he’s scoring in most games which will always aid the cause, although the defence looks hard to trust and surely more dropped points are in the offing while Emery insists on playing the ball out from the back.
Manchester United Now On the Drift
As harsh as it may sound, Manchester United’s 4-0 win against Chelsea in the opening game of the season might be as good as it gets for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season. The result suggested that there were bright times ahead for the Red Devils although the team have only managed to win one of their following five encounters.
Solskjaer will always try to see the positives in any situation although eight points on the board after six games will have been well below the pre-season target and it explains why United can now be backed at 15/8 to finish in the Premier League top-four come the end of the campaign.
One can’t get too excited about this price considering that the Red Devils look short of the quality needed to be among the leading quartet of teams and it’s saying something when a £20 million signing from Swansea City is looking like your best chance of scoring goals in his first season at the club.
Former United manager Jose Mourinho has recently delivered a damning indictment on his former team and it’s hard to argue against the opinion that the Red Devils are going backwards, even if the blame for this can’t be completely laid at the feet of the Norwegian.
Chelsea Showing Signs of Quality
Losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool hasn’t really changed Chelsea’s odds when it comes to qualifying for the top-four and we’re of the opinion that the Blues are more likely to qualify for the Champions League next season than Manchester United.
While the club are currently suffering from a transfer embargo, Frank Lampard has inherited a squad full of quality players including Kepa, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Willian. In addition, he’s been able to bring back Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham from loan spells and the trio have played a big part already.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and there are defensive concerns over this Chelsea team, although there’s plenty to like about the way they bomb forward and they have simply been able to outscore opponents such as Norwich and Wolves this season, with Lampard now looking for consistent results.
Christian Pulisic is another exciting player who can help Chelsea get close to a top-four spot and we think that they have a decent chance of achieving their aim providing that juggling their current Champions League responsibilities doesn’t become too much of a bane for them.
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Leicester Now Shortest Ever at 5/1
Brendan Rodgers will never explicitly say that his Leicester team can break into the top-four, although he must surely believe that the Foxes have a fighting chance of achieving this aim. Eleven points from six matches played is a very solid return and the fact that they’ve drawn at Chelsea and beaten Tottenham indicates they can mix it with the big boys.
Losing Harry Maguire to Manchester United was initially seen as a big blow, although Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu look rock-solid as part of a new-look central defensive partnership, with Wilfried Ndidi offering a lot of protection and also some attacking prowess to boot.
Leicester are now 5/1 from 16/1 to land a top-four spot and they are doing everything right in their quest to treat supporters to the Champions League football that was previously enjoyed during the 2016/17 season.
Everton Drifting Like a Barge
Marco Silva is currently trading as a short favourite on the Premier League Sack Race market and, if you suggested to any Everton fan that they could land a top-four spot this season, they would probably laugh in your face. That’s especially after being beaten 2-0 at home to Sheffield United who defended manfully and took the chances that came their way.
We’re surprised that the Toffees aren’t bigger than the 20/1 with Unibet currently available, although perhaps Silva is just experiencing teething problems this season and a couple of wins would put them back on the right track after just six games played.
Nevertheless, their failure to take points on the road is putting pressure on their home form, with Everton beaten at Villa Park and the Vitality Stadium after opening the season with a goalless draw at Selhurst Park.
West Ham 33/1 After Beating Red Devils
Perhaps it will be a bridge too far for West Ham to qualify for the Champions League this season, with odds of 33/1 reflecting the London side have roughly a 3% chance of finishing above the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea to squeeze into the top-four come the end of the campaign.
However, a 2-0 triumph against the Red Devils will give manager Manuel Pellegrini the confidence that his team can be a top-six finisher this time around, with the defence looking particularly solid after three consecutive clean sheets.