According to the bookmakers, there are nine Premier League teams who can realistically achieve a top-four finish in the table next season. At the end of the 2018/19 campaign, it was Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur who banked the Champions League spots, although it might not be that quartet holding those places in twelve months’ time.
Champions Manchester City are trading at odds of 8/11 with Bet365 to make it a hat-trick of Premier League titles, so it’s hardly a surprise that they’re massive odds-on to finish in the top four. At odds of 1/33, they are rendered unbackable, while Liverpool are trading at 1/7 and also look set to become a permanent top four fixture for the next few seasons.
The Premier League Top Four betting market is a good deal more interesting after that. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the other clubs trading at odds-on, although a price of around 4/6 with some bookies is a good deal more uncertain than the top two, while the Red Devils were massively off the pace during the 2018/19 campaign and have plenty of problems to solve.
Chelsea managed a top-four finish last season and some punters might be taken with the 11/10 with Bet365 about them repeating this trick, but the potential departure of Eden Hazard allied to an impending transfer ban could make life difficult. Conversely, Arsenal appear to be moving in the right direction under Unai Emery and a place in the top quartet could be very much on the cards.
Can any team from outside the Premier League Big Six gatecrash the party? Towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign, Everton were showing form that suggests we might see the Toffees competing for a Europa League spot at the very least next season, with things starting to click for Marco Silva at Goodison Park.
Similarly, Leicester and Wolves had credible campaigns and perhaps these Midlands teams can continue on an upward trajectory under Brendan Rodgers and Nuno Espirito Santo respectively. They have both shown an ability to match the leading teams in the Premier League and have ambitious owners wanting them to make the next step up and they have been priced up by the best betting sites.
Manchester City Look Nailed On For Top Four
For some people, it’s not even a question whether Manchester City will finish in the top four next season. After all, there’s talk about Pep Guardiola potentially creating a legacy at the Etihad and winning the quadruple next season, with the north-west giant currently trading at 100/1 with Paddy Power for this incredible achievement.
Guardiola’s side won the Premier League with ninety-eight points last season and the Citizens will surely go from strength to strength, with the Spaniard understanding the importance of pushing forward so that his team can find different ways to improve.
Considering Pep was able to steer City to third place come the end of the 2016/17 season with a team who showed plenty of fragility in defence, it’s surely an absolute banker that the champions will not only finish in the leading four places in the division but probably be in the top two.
Liverpool Likely to Become Top Four Furniture
Some people might be asking where it all went wrong for Liverpool this season. However, a more pertinent question is where it all went right for Jurgen Klopp and his outstanding team, with the Reds coming desperately close to a first Premier League title since 1990.
Liverpool’s return of ninety-seven points at the end of the 2018/19 season was a major improvement on the previous campaign which saw them squeeze home in fourth with a return of seventy-five points. The Merseyside outfit lost just one match throughout the campaign and that was a slender 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
The Reds were twenty-seven points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal and it’s surely unrealistic to imagine Liverpool dropping out of the Champions League spots in twelve months’ time.
It’s likely that Klopp will strengthen his squad even further in a bid to find the edge over a Manchester City team who were barely able to keep them at arm’s length last season.
Should Anyone be Confident in Manchester United?
If we’re looking for value when having a Premier League Top Four bet, then we should probably be swerving the 11/10 quote with Betfair about Manchester United finishing in the top four next season, especially as the Red Devils could be battling it out with six other teams if we see Everton, Wolves and Leicester find some improvement.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Manchester United board now have to work together to reshape a squad which has badly underachieved for the past few seasons and a points return of sixty-six points at the end of the 2018/19 campaign simply wasn’t anywhere good enough.
Jose Mourinho wasn’t the answer at Old Trafford although the Portuguese did steer the Red Devils to second in the table the previous season and eighty-one points wasn’t a bad return, but the team have taken a backward step this term despite some memorable moments in the Champions League and particularly against Paris Saint-Germain.
Where does Solskjaer even start with the squad? Should Paul Pogba be ushered out of the club due to a toxic influence in the dressing room? Will Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial look to leave England and find success with a club on the continent? Can some decent central defenders be found for a team who were suspect in this department all season?
Tottenham Hotspur Built on Solid Foundations
If Manchester United are in a mess, the same can’t be said about a Tottenham Hotspur team who managed to finish fourth in the Premier League last season. The fact that they did this while managing to overcome Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, and Ajax to reach the Champions League final represented an outstanding achievement.
Mauricio Pochettino has been a miracle worker at the north London club. The team has had to ensure a lengthy delay before they could call White Hart Lane a home again. They didn’t sign a single player during the summer of 2018, nor the winter of 2019. Yet the team built by the Argentine were actually holding a candle to City and Liverpool during the early months.
Harry Kane also missed the last couple of months of the season, where domestic form took a nosedive. However, the team are now back playing at the Lane and Pochettino will surely be given the funds to strengthen his squad so that they’re able to continue the rate of improvement domestically and further afield.
The team have relied too much on Kane for too long in an attacking sense, while the north London side will perhaps look for more midfield creativity and they were linked with a swoop for Jack Grealish last summer. The same player is likely to be on the radar again, with Spurs looking a fairly solid proposition to remain dining at the top table in Europe.
Arsenal Odds-Against For Top Four Next Term
Arsenal landed a 3-1 win at Burnley on the final day of the 2018/19 campaign, although it still left them a point short of Tottenham, with Unai Emery’s side suffering several defeats towards the end of the season and it was noticeable how many goals were being conceded every game.
Successive defeats against Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester during the month of April really hit the Gunners’ top four hopes for six and it’s possible that a successful Europa League campaign took its toll on a squad who were operating under Emery for the first season following the Arsene Wenger era.
Aside from Manchester City and Liverpool, Arsenal had the best home form in the Premier League last term. There were fourteen victories and three draws from the nineteen matches at the Emirates with just seven wins were recorded on the road along with eight defeats.
It’s clear that the main problems are defensive ones and we’re sure to see new faces during the summer in a bid to address them. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - along with Liverpool's Mane and Salah - scored more goals than any other player in the Premier League and his partnership with Alexandre Lacazette is as good as anything in this division.
Chelsea Preparing for Life Without Hazard
For a team supposedly in crisis at various stages of the season, Chelsea did pretty well considering that they reached two cup finals and finished third in the Premier League. Maurizio Sarri - who was leading the market in the Premier League sack race - enjoyed a fast start to life in England and the Italian recovered well from several setbacks to ensure that the team would play Champions League football.
However, the summer of 2019 looks set to be a difficult one for the west London club. Chelsea, 11/10 best price for a top-four finish, appear to be facing a losing battle when it comes to retaining Eden Hazard, with the Belgian having fluttered his eyelids towards Real Madrid on more than one occasion, although replacing him looks nigh on possible.
That’s especially when you consider that Chelsea have received a recent transfer ban which currently prevents them from signing any players until the summer of 2020. It’s plausible that this embargo will be lifted pending an appeal, but they currently face a short-term future that means operating with players that they already have.
Everton Should Get Closer to Top Four
Everton ended the season in eighth place last season, a position which will have disappointed many fans considering that there was major investment at the Merseyside club last season. Lucas Digne, Richarlison and Yerry Mina were among the expensive acquisitions made, but the Toffees took most of the campaign before they clicked into gear.
However, Marco Silva’s team finished the 2018/19 campaign very strongly, losing just one of their final eight games of the season, while five Premier League victories were recorded and that includes wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Everton will be targeting a top six finish in the top flight next term and we might see further investment to push them closer. The club’s owners will expect progression to come from the existing squad and perhaps the main requirement is a striker who can fire twenty goals for the Toffees - bookies have them pegged at a 20/1 shot to crack the top-four.
Wolves Looking to Build on Seventh Place
Wolverhampton Wanderers didn’t take long to acclimatise to life in the Premier League. Having won the Championship title during the previous season, Nuno Espirito Santo was able to make some quality additions to the squad and Wolves subsequently ended the 2018/19 campaign in seventh place and just nine points behind Manchester United.
It was especially noticeable how well the Midlands team performed against the top six teams. An early draw against Manchester City was followed by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup. Wolves also accounted for Manchester United in that competition and took four points off the Red Devils in the league.
Wins over Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal also occurred, with Nuno likely to strengthen his squad further and they recently made the loan signing of Raul Jimenez a permanent one. The future looks bright for a club who now have a distinctive Portuguese element at Molineux.
Leicester Looking to Gatecrash the Party
Brendan Rodgers did a sterling job at the King Power Stadium after replacing Claude Puel, although it should be noted that the Northern Irishman inherited a squad full of quality players and the Leicester owners will expect a top four challenge in the Premier League next season.
Jamie Vardy finished the season like a train and bagged eighteen goals in the Premier League, with James Maddison proving a revelation and there are other talented Englishmen in the form of Harvey Barnes, Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire.
If Leicester can permanently sign Youri Tielemans and bolster the squad with players likely to have already been identified by Rodgers, then we might see the Foxes ruffle the feathers of some of the big guns, especially if the likes of transfer-banned Chelsea and a transitional Manchester United fluff their lines.