Premier League betting preview & tips

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Premier League winner odds

Manchester City (5/2) are title favourites but the price has drifted a little since the start of the summer.

At the time of Pep Guardiola’s appointment, City were 2/1 or less to win the league, but the shift in price isn’t so much about goings-on at City as it is about what’s gone on at rivals Manchester United.

Conversely speaking, I did see value at backing City at a shorter price earlier in the summer but not now, for two reasons.

Firstly I don’t think Pep hasn’t really plugged all the holes he needed to plugged, and secondly, United are a genuine threat for the title now with Jose Mourinho on board and some excellent acquisitions to the squad.

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City’s primary targets for their seemingly endless centre back crisis were Aymeric Laporte and Leonardo Bonucci, and had Pep been successful in either of those pursuits they’d have a much better chance.

As it turned out they’ve ended up with John Stones, who, although very promising, doesn’t look the finished product just yet.

Stones does suit Pep’s style well, and City fans will feel better about the prospect of lining up with him at centre back than they did Aleksandar Kolarov (who spent much of preseason there).

Centre midfield is another problem area with current stars like Yaya Toure on the wane, and thus far only Ilkay Gundogan has arrived to bolster the options.

If 100% fit and on form, Gundogan is one of the best midfielders in the league, but with serious question marks over his ability to stay fit (in fact he’s injured now) I’m surprised the manager hasn’t added at least one more.

I was expecting a new first-choice keeper to arrive and it remains to be seen whether Pep is happy with Joe Hart or he just couldn’t get his preferred target. My money would be on the latter as Hart just doesn’t fit the profile of a Pep Guardiola goalkeeper.

That being said, for all the apparent weaknesses they do have genuine world class talent and you’d expect motivation levels will improve after basically flatlining towards the end of last season.

Expect Guardiola to spring a few surprises this season [photo Thomas Rodenbücher]

Expect Guardiola to spring a few surprises this season [photo Thomas Rodenbücher]

There’s always the chance Guardiola will reinvent some of his players and they’ll thrive in new positions. Fernandinho could be the new Javier Mascherano, who knows? I’d expect a few surprises from the manager at the Etihad this season.

With a gun to my head I’d reluctantly pick City out of all the contenders, but, at 5/2, I don’t see value in the price.

In contrast, at Manchester United (10/3), Jose Mourinho has quickly and directly addressed the weaknesses in the squad.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan adds pace, creativity and goals to the forward line and they were badly missing traits under Louis Van Gaal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic also brings goals, of course, along with much-needed aggression and confidence. In Paul Pogba they finally have a top centre midfielder with mobility, an ingredient they have craved for a long time.

Despite all the positives, 10/3 seems miserly for a team with a new manager who have just been through two years of mediocracy.

They’ll need time to transition from Louis van Gaal’s patient passing style to Jose’s more direct approach, and for that reason – I’m out.

Chelsea (11/2) are next in the betting, which is a surprise for a team that finished 10th last season.

Antonio Conte [photo Nazionale Calcio]

Can Antonio Conte adapt to English football? [photo Nazionale Calcio]

In Antonio Conte the West London club have acquired an astute manager who’s impressed in his last few jobs. Enough to consider Chelsea as third favourites for the title? I’m not sure about that.

There are too many unknowns here. Can Conte adapt quickly to a new league? Do his tactics suit English football? Will Eden Hazard return to his pre-2015/16 levels? Can their ageing defence improve on last season?

If everything clicks, they certainly have a chance, but I’m not keen on backing the stars to align perfectly at a price of 11/2. It’s a clear fade in my book.

It seems the summer window is like Groundhog Day for Arsenal (6/1), with fans calling for Arsene Wenger to get his chequebook out and add quality to the the squad.

Last year it was centre-midfield that badly needed strengthening, with no obvious back-up or competition to Francis Coquelin in the defensive midfield role. Arguably, they paid the price for not addressing that issue.

This year it’s centre-back but it appears even more problematic this time, with Per Mertesacker out for the foreseeable, Gabriel picking up a knock in preseason and Laurent Koscielny touch and go for the opener against Liverpool.

To us outsiders, the answers seem obvious. Buy a quality defender, Arsene. “Why not sign Ashley Williams as a stop-gap?”, I hear people say, but what do us fans know? Not much, I guess.

In last season’s Premier League preview I said I might be interested in backing Arsenal if Wenger “could add one or two quality players in key positions before the transfer window shuts”, and I feel exactly the same this time around.

I’m not holding my breath on that happening, though. We’ll see.

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At first glance Tottenham (9/1) offer much better value than their North London rivals.

The squad is settled and has no obvious issues. I’m expecting Harry Kane to get over his poor form at the Euros now he’s returned to familiar surroundings, and with a top striker in your ranks you always have a chance.

The main attraction with Spurs is they are a team in the ascendency. Mauricio Pochettino has impressively crafted this squad by adding hungry young players with room for improvement, while also getting more out of the players already at his disposal.

If that upward trajectory continues this season, 9/1 is a good outside bet. The other contenders have question marks surrounding one area or another, whereas Tottenham look good to go.

Liverpool (9/1) have an exciting manager in Jurgen Klopp who’s capable of pulling a surprise out of the bag.

It just wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t hear cries of “we’re gonna win the league” from Liverpool fans, but to be fair to them, there’s plenty of reason for optimism at Anfield lately.

[photo Asia Joanna]

Klopp capable? [photo Asia Joanna]

Sadio Mane is a great acquisition who adds to their considerable firepower of Robert Firmino,  Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana among others. I don’t see creating chances being a big problem for the manager.

Question marks remain over the defence however and a lot could depend on how quickly new goalkeeper Loris Karius and new centre-half Ragner Klavan settle into the side.

At the exact same price I do prefer the stability of Spurs but with Klopp at the helm and no Champions League distractions, I don’t absolutely hate Liverpool’s price here.

You simply have to include last season’s champions in the list of title contenders, but it will take a monumental effort for Leicester (30/1) to repeat their heroics.

The loss of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea can’t be understated but the biggest problem they have is they’ve become a target, and won’t be underestimated like last year.

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We’re all aware that Leicester are far more effective playing on the break compared to when the onus is on them to open teams up. Their opponents will adjust accordingly and make the task of breaking down defences all the more difficult.

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez can expect a lot more attention from defenders this time around, and therefore much less space to operate in.

That said, Leicester are still a very good team and have managed to keep hold of the vast majority of the squad. 9/4 to finish top 6 for a team coming off the back of winning the title by 10 points is a very hefty price.

Premier League relegation odds

Hull (4/6) lead the betting and it’s easy to see why.

Steve Bruce resigned earlier in the summer when he wasn’t given the funds he felt he needed to do his job, and that doesn’t bode well for Hull fans.

The fact that it looks increasingly likely that Mike Phelan will be in charge for the season opener against Leicester is also cause for concern.

Fans will surely have been expecting a more experienced man to come in.  A long and difficult season lies ahead.

It’s hardly worth tying your money up for ten months at these odds though. The smart money was onboard earlier in the summer at close to evens.

Burnley (1) have stability under Sean Dyche and after great season in The Championship last year they’ll have momentum coming into the season.

When you look at the recent history of the promoted clubs their fate often depends on whether or not they have a genuine goalscorer in the ranks.

In Andre Gray they might just have one themselves. He’s carried his excellent form into preseason and although we can’t say for certain until he’s proven himself, he looks likely to carry it into the Premier League too.

In Dyche and Gray we have enough reasons for me to avoid Burnley at these prices.

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You can say a lot about the consistency of Middlesbrough (2/1) last season but, in fairness, their defence was pretty solid throughout. That should stand them in good stead this season.

It was scoring goals they had a bit of trouble with and that task won’t get any easier in the Premier League.

Manager Aitor Karanka has demonstrated plenty of pragmatism since he’s been in charge and the loan signing of Alvaro Negredo could be another shrewd move.

In Negredo and Jordan Rhodes they might well have enough firepower, but it’s their defensive solidity that gives me confidence in their chances of survival.

Moyes revival?

Plenty of water has gone under the bridge since David Moyes was running a steady ship at Everton, but he has a chance to redeem himself at Sunderland (5/2).

Before the decade in merseyside, Moyes did a fantastic job at Preston or four years, so I’d favour giving him the benefit of the doubt in regards to his recent record. The United job was just too big and going to Spain was always going to end badly.

If you can’t even say Illarramendi properly you’re on a hiding to nothing really.

This is a tough job, no doubt, but with a lot to prove in England I’m backing him to keep Sunderland up.

If he doesn’t, at least he’ll be able to pronounce Cattermole, Jones and Defoe without sounding like a weird malfunctioning robot.

As I write this, Ashley Williams is about to leave Swansea (7/2) to join Everton. Why they would sell him for the rumoured £10 million, is anyone’s guess.

I’d be tempted by 3/1 for Swansea to drop down a division even without that deal. The Swans are on a downward trajectory and I don’t think the signing of Fernando Llorente will solve their striker issues.

Without the rock that is Williams in the heart of defence, it’s gotta be the pick of the relegation market.

Premier League 2016/17 betting tips

Tottenham to win the title – 9/1 @ Bet365 (bet now)
Leicester to finish in the top 6 – 9/4 @ Bet365 (bet now)
Swansea to be relegated – 7/2 @ Betfair (bet now)
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