Could there be a sea change in the Premier League this season? While most people expect Manchester City or Liverpool to be crowned champions, it appears to be a much tougher task when it comes to predicting the overall top four in the English top flight.
Two months ago, bet365 were offering 8/11 that Man City would win a third consecutive Premier League title come May 2020, although they have since hardened to odds of 1/2 which illustrates that there is huge market confidence that Pep Guardiola’s side will continue to build a legacy in England.
Liverpool finished last season with 97 points and are currently trading at 13/5 to win the 2019/20 Premier League title and end thirty years of hurt on Merseyside. Jurgen Klopp’s men finished a full twenty-seven points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal last May and they’ve gone from 1/7 to 1/16 over the summer on this market.
The narrative has certainly changed as far as Manchester United and Arsenal are concerned. The Red Devils were trading at 4/6 in the Top 4 market when the 2018/19 season ended, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expected to assemble a squad in his own image although things haven’t really worked out that way.
The best betting sites now feel brave enough to oppose United to the extent that they’re prepared to go 11/10 about their Norwegian manager improving on last season’s sixth place finish to land a place in the top quartet although it might be that they’re competing for a solitary place.
The Gunners are also drifting like a barge, with punters swerving the chance to get behind Unai Emery’s team to the extent that Arsenal have gone from 11/10 on this market to 6/4, indicating that they are far more likely to miss out on a top four spot than actually get one.
Despite being held back by a transfer embargo, Chelsea have actually held firm in this betting market, with Frank Lampard’s side trading at 11/10 throughout the summer and certainly focused on retaining their status as a Premier League top four entity after Maurizio Sarri - who had been top of the market in the link_text_goes_here - steered them to that position last term.
Manchester City Are Past the Post
They say in betting that there’s no such thing as a dead cert, although Manchester City finishing in the top four is as close as it gets. You’re not going to get rich backing the 1/40 with Ladbrokes that Pep Guardiola’s side finish in the top quartet of places, although that price indicates that the Spaniard has created a super power in England.
It’s worth noting that Kevin de Bruyne was absent for most of last season yet the Citizens were still able to win the title and finish 28 points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, while Rodri has arrived from Atletico Madrid for the princely sum of £62.8 million and will be called upon if Fernandinho needs a breather at any stage.
Sergio Aguero is the ultimate goal machine and he’s flanked by dangerous wide men in Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling, with John Stones now getting the opportunity to forge a central defensive partnership with Aymeric Laporte after Vincent Kompany bowed out on a high.
Liverpool Also Part of Top Four Furniture
Two seasons ago, Liverpool were sweating over a top four finish and only sealed their spot in the Champions League on the final day of the season. However, there was a radical improvement last term as the Reds put together the sort of title-winning form that earned them 97 points in the process.
Jurgen Klopp’s team - 11/4 with Betfair to win the Premier League - were 27 points in profit as far as a top four spot was concerned and it’s implausible that they’ll lose this position of strength considering that the rock solid defence alone will guarantee that the Merseyside outfit rack up the wins with aplomb.
There’s some concern that Liverpool haven’t strengthened the squad over the summer, although Klopp will consider a fit Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as like having new signings, while Fabinho should continue to improve after a shaky start to life in England.
Will Spurs Be Looking Over Their Shoulders?
Tottenham Hotspur were generally considered to be the third-best team in England last season, although it’s worth bearing in mind that they finished fourth in the Premier League table behind a fast-finishing Chelsea. Similarly, Mauricio Pochettino’s side were only a point clear of Arsenal in the final standings.
This can partly be explained by the fact that Spurs dropped several points due to their future Champions League final involvement against Liverpool, while they were always able to monitor the chasing pack and be aware of what they needed to achieve to be safely home with a top four spot.
However, perhaps we shouldn’t look at Tottenham as complete banker material considering they were streets behind the leading pair of teams and continue to rely heavily on Harry Kane as a source of goals. Indeed, Pochettino has recently been expressing his frustration with how chairman Daniel Levy continues to rule the roost regarding transfers.
Chelsea Fourth Favourites to Finish in Top Four
This time a year ago, Frank Lampard was causing ripples by agreeing to become the next manager of Derby County. Now he’s made waves by not only managing in the Premier League but taking charge of his beloved Chelsea and his remit this season is to steer the Blues to a place in the top four without spending a penny.
The fact that Chelsea have held steady in the Premier League Top Four betting market suggests that the bookies expect Lampard to do a solid job, with the 40-year-old having quickly handed the promising Mason Mount a five-year deal and he’s also set to give Tammy Abraham an opportunity to lead the line.
The big problem for Chelsea is that Eden Hazard has been so vital to the team for several years and nobody quite knows how the Belgian’s departure to Real Madrid is going to affect the team. Christian Pulisic will get an opportunity to shine although this is almost certainly going to be a transitional season and the London side could be vulnerable.
Manchester United Look Wobbly Under Ole
It’s not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fault that Manchester United are no longer a powerful force in English football. The Norwegian took over from Jose Mourinho with the team in disarray and it was to his credit that he managed to galvanise the squad and actually achieve an initially outstanding set of results.
However, this proved to be a short-lived phenomenon and the Red Devils wound up in sixth place after landing just eight points from their remaining nine matches. Furthermore, Solskjaer is struggling to reshape the squad due to several high-earners unable or unwilling to be rehomed.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka should prove to be a value acquisition at right-back, although centre-half has been a problem area for donkeys years and United’s willingness to pay through the nose for Harry Maguire hints at a desperation to find a rock around whom a sturdy defence can be built.
Arsenal’s Dodgy Away Form Could Haunt Them
On the plus side, Arsenal boasted the third-best home form in the Premier League last season, with fourteen wins landed at the Emirates and just two defeats. On a similar theme, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the joint-top scorer in the division and the north London side’s tally of 73 goals wasn’t too shabby.
However, there were several negatives during Unai Emery’s first season. The Gunners were consistently flimsy away from home and it’s worth noting that they conceded 35 of their 51 goals on the road, with Laurent Koscielny deciding in the summer to jump ship and further weaken the squad.
Nicolas Pepe is set to arrive for an eye-watering transfer fee from Lille, while Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have quickly gelled as a forward line capable of helping their team outscore opponents, although odds of 6/4 with Bet365 illustrate that Emery has his work cut out to land a Champions League qualifying berth.
The Money Comes for a Leicester Top Four Spot
Leicester’s past four Premier League finishes have been first, twelfth, ninth and ninth. Since winning the title, it appears that the Foxes have become a mid-table fixture, although the Midlands club have ambitious owners and the team look primed to rise back up the table and potentially challenge for a top four spot.
Leicester finished ninth last season although they started the campaign with Claude Puel in charge before the more dynamic Brendan Rodgers replaced the Frenchman and he’s significantly strengthened after recruiting Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez, while City are winning their battle to retain the services of Harry Maguire.
The Foxes have a strong spine thanks to players like Kasper Schmeichel, Wilfried Ndidi and Jamie Vardy, while James Maddison took to the Premier League like a duck to water last term and finished top of the average key passes per game table, with Leicester having been backed from 25/1 to 20/1 best price with Unibet.
Can Wolves and Everton Make a Splash?
Wolverhampton Wanderers completed some early summer business by landing Raul Jimenez on a permanent deal for £33 million and it appears that his partnership with Diogo Jota could be among the most lethal in the Premier League next term.
Wolves ruffled the feathers of virtually every big gun last season, although the big question is whether the Midlands side can be flat-track bullies and put lesser teams to bed on a routine basis. Ultimately, that will be the only way to propel them into the big time.
The same accusation can be levelled at Everton who are really short of firepower coming into the new campaign and it’s implausible that the Toffees can break into the top four without at least one new striker. Richarlison is a promising attacking player but can’t be relied upon to score more than twenty goals.
Losing Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain was also a blow to the Merseyside team who appear to be gradually falling down the Premier League pecking order, although Yerry Mina and Michael Keane have the makings of a budding new central defensive partnership in front of the flamboyant Jordan Pickford.