Having won the Premier League in style last season, pulling 19 points clear of the chasing pack, it’s no surprise to see Manchester City chalked as the red-hot 4-6 favourites to defend their crown. But, are they worth a bet at that price?
There will be plenty of odds-on punters looking to steam into those odds, expecting another easy stroll for Pep Guardiola’s men, but not since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign have there been two seasons alike where one team dominates. The fact City haven’t lost any of their squad, instead adding the high-class Riyad Mahrez is another tick in the champions’ box. In fact, there aren’t many negatives surrounding City, just their price.
One team who are more sensibly priced are Liverpool at 4-1.
Following years of pre-season promise, The Reds showed glimpses of brilliance last season, in the process becoming the only team to tame Manchester City by beating them three times in both league and cup. The Premier League’s top scorer, Mohamed Salah, scored in each of those victories and looks set for another good season having not lost his touch by scoring in the World Cup and pre-season. Alongside are Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who will link up with several new signings in Naby Keita, Fabinho and Shakiri, who all look set to light up Anfield.
While there is much to like about Liverpool’s chances, they’ll need to take maximum points in games they are expected to win – last season they drew at home to Burnley, West Brom and Stoke, while losing at Swansea. Jurgen Klopp’s men enter the new season in top form and it is easy to see why money arrived for them of late, but whether they’ve learned from their mistakes and are ready to dominate the league remains to be seen.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the manner in which teams finished the previous season when looking for the winners, as momentum plays an important role – who can forget the way Leicester City escaped relegation in 2014/15 courtesy of a winning run that spilled over into their champions season. With that in mind, here is a glance at the last 10 Premier League winners and their performance from the previous season, featuring their last 10 games.
Past Premier League winners – the season beforehand
|Season||Winners||Previous finish||Previous goals||Previous losses||Last 10 games|
|2017/18||Man City||3rd||80||6||W6 D2 L1 21pts|
|2016/17||Chelsea||10th||59||12||W2 D4 L3 10pts|
|2015/16||Leicester||14th||46||19||W7 D1 L2 22pts|
|2014/15||Chelsea||3rd||71||6||W7 D1 L3 22pts|
|2013/14||Man City||2nd||66||6||W6 D1 L3 19pts|
|2012/13||Man Utd||2nd||89||5||W7 1D L2 22pts|
|2011/12||Man City||3rd||60||9||W8 D0 L2 24pts|
|2010/11||Man Utd||2nd||86||7||W8 D1 L1 25pts|
|2009/10||Chelsea||3rd||68||5||W8 D1 L1 25pts|
|2008/09||Man Utd||1st||80||5||W7 D2 L1 23pts|
Two statistics standout from the above table – the first being the lack of recent back-to-back winners, with only Manchester United and Chelsea managing the feat since the Premier League’s interception in 1993.
The second is how well champions finished the previous season – in horse racing terms you could describe them as “running on well” or being “nearest at the finish”. Indeed, of the last 10 champions, nine accumulated at least 19 points during the last 10 games, losing a maximum of three games – the exception was Chelsea several years ago when things fell apart under Jose Mourinho.
Therefore, it’s worth taking a look at who has the ideal profile from this season’s potential winners. Well, Manchester City would need to be the first team in 10 years to win back-to-back titles, and are bypassed on that basis considering their short odds. But, what of the chasing pack and their 2017/18 end-of-season 10-game record:
Last 10 games of 2017/18 season
|Man City||8 1 1||25|
|Man Utd||7 1 2||22|
|Tottenham||7 1 2||22|
|Liverpool||5 3 2||18|
|Arsenal||6 0 4||18|
|Chelsea||5 2 3||17|
|Crystal Palace||5 2 3||17|
|Burnley||5 2 3||17|
We’ve already looked at Liverpool’s chances, but the fact they didn’t finish as well as others last season points up the likes of both Manchester United and Tottenham.
Plenty has been spoken about Jose Mourinho’s future at the club and what would be the outcome if things go wrong? But, what if things go well?
With World Cup winner, Paul Pogba, lining-up in the form of his life, and the possibility of Alexis Sanchez finding the form that saw him net 24 times two seasons ago, the Red Devils have oodles of class – Lukaku, Rashford and Lingard to name three others. Their defence remains strong – United kept the most clean sheets last season – and they are scheduled to play only one of last season’s top six sides during their opening eight games, allowing them to get some momentum going. For a side with so much quality and a top manager, each-way odds of 9-1 look interesting.
As for Tottenham, then once again the doubters envisage trouble for a team that 12 months ago lost Kyle Walker and needed to settle into a new home – but they still managed a creditable third. Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t lost any of his squad this time around, and may add to it later in the season if funds from the new ground’s revenue become available. Of course, a lot will depend on whether Harry Kane can stay fit for the season, but that risk is built into their each-way price of 16-1.
It’s not often the top four teams from one season finish in the top four the following season, in fact it last happened in 2008/09 when Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal finished in the top four having 12 months earlier finished in the following order: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. The odds about last season’s top four: Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool, all making the top four once more rates a 13-5 chance. But, with some fancy odds available, it could be worth taking out some cover about Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool at 15-2, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal as big as 14-1.
As for whether a potential “Leicester City” could lurk below the big clubs waiting to cause a surprise, then the realistic answer is no, though several sides could cause some shock results, including both Fulham and West Ham United.
One of the most popular markets ahead of the new season is the Golden Boot (or top scorer), and last season saw a new winner in Mohammed Salah, who took Harry Kane’s crown.
Last four seasons
32 Mohammed Salah
30 Harry Kane
21 Sergio Aguero
20 Jamie Vardy
29 Harry Kane
25 Romelu Lukaku
24 Alexis Sanchez
20 Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero
25 Harry Kane
24 Sergio Aguero
24 Jamie Vardy
18 Romelu Lukaku
26 Sergio Aguero
21 Harry Kane
20 Diego Costa
18 Charlie Austin
Salah, whose performances in both the World Cup and pre-season suggest he retains his touch, may not be just a “one-season wonder”. The Egyptian King’s goal tallies have increased in each of the last four seasons – albeit some were non-Premier League – and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat last season’s heroics.
Harry Kane had to play second fiddle to Salah last term, and was unfortunate as his career best tally of 30 goals would’ve seen him awarded the Golden Boot, though compensation did come his way via the World Cup Golden Boot – Paddy Power offer 7-1 for both Salah and Kane to score 30+ league goals again.
Consistency is Kane’s forte, and if remaining injury-free for an entire season he should bag another 25-30 goals. The bookies, however, cut his odds each season, having gone from a 200-1 shot in 2014-2015, to a 14-1 chance a season later, then into 7-1 and 10-3 last term. At 11-4 for the upcoming campaign, it’s safe to say the bookies have caught up and aren’t taking any chances.
Player/Odds/Last four totals
|P E Aubameyang||7-1||10||31*||25*||16*|
The odds compilers may not giving much away via the front two in the market, but there are bigger prices elsewhere offering each-way opportunities about a top-four finish.
That is something Sergio Aguero (8-1) mastered the art of having finished third, fourth, second, first and fourth during the last five seasons. Aguero’s consistency makes him an each-way option at 8-1, though whether he’ll get as many games with Riyad Mahrez (66-1) arriving is questionable. Mahrez’s exit from Leicester City, however, may give Jamie Vardy (40-1) more ball time up front, and the Foxes hitman is another consistent performer who made the places in two of the last three seasons, including a creditable tally of 20 last year.
Elsewhere, Romelu Lukaku is looking exposed in this market, having held every chance last season via a creditable 21 goals on his debut season for Manchester United – his fourth consecutive 20+ tally in the top flight. But as could be the case at Arsenal, it could be his teammate, Alexis Sanchez, who offers more value at 33-1, having netted 24 goals two seasons ago for Arsenal.
Another fact to take into account are the teams past winners of the Golden Boot played for, as of the 19 winners since 2000-01, the teams were as follows:
Golden Boot clubs
Man Utd (4)
Man City (2)
With Arsenal providing the most winners in recent times, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enters calculations. The 29-year-old Gabonese striker hit 10 goals in just 13 appearances last term, having previously struck 13 in 16 during the first half of last season for Borussia Dortmund, and seems to be getting better with age. His teammate, Alexandre Lacazette, notched 14 last term having arrived with big numbers from abroad, and of the pair, Aubameyang is favoured.
As mentioned in the individual team guide, there were several trends to have pointed the way in terms of assessing how promoted clubs fared in the Premier League, and a look back over the last 10 years shows that of the 30 clubs promoted, 12 were immediately relegated.
This season’s promoted sides are Cardiff, Fulham and Wolves. The latter won the Championship convincingly, bought well during the summer and have funds available, so should hold their own, as should Fulham. The Londoners looked classy last term and have also made several shrewd signings to go with their highly-talented youngster, Ryan Sessegnon, though Cardiff added Championship players to their squad and could lack the quality required, hence why they remain the bookies’ 8-13 jollies to go back down. Bluebirds fans will point out, however, that only one of the last 10 Championship runners-up went down, so they’ll be hoping that statistic continues.
As for which teams could be on the slide, then a glance at last season’s final 10 games shows Huddersfield won just once, with Watford and Brighton also finishing poorly with two wins apiece. Of the trio, Huddersfield could be the most exposed having lost Tom Ince, and will be hoping their big signing, Terence Kongolo, delivers.
If there is one of the bigger clubs who could find themselves in trouble, then it may be Newcastle United, who haven’t splashed the cash in the way Rafael Benitez would’ve liked. The Toon Army also struggled for goals both last season and in pre-season, and odds of 5-1 about them playing Championship football next term may be shorter if the Magpies start poorly – they face Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal in their first five games.
Not the most reliable market to get involved in, with only three favourites obliging during the last 14 years, and it was a 16-1 shot in Frank de Boer who made an early exit from Crystal Palace last season.
This season’s market looks wide open, with Manchester United’s, Jose Mourinho, a narrow 7-1 favourite, while a trio of 8-1 shots come next in Javi Garcia (Watford), Claude Puel (Leicester) and Neil Warnock (Cardiff).
It’s easy to see why Mourinho has been backed following a history of walking when things don’t start well, and he hasn’t looked happy throughout the summer. Puel is with a club who won only one of their last seven games, and who got rid of both Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespere. Warnock may also be under a cloud with Cardiff having to play Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool before the end of October – similar comments that apply to 9-1 shot, Rafael Benitez, as Newcastle face a tough start to go in tandem with a rocky atmosphere in the boardroom.
PFA Player of the Year
Quite a number of the bookies have priced this market up, and at first glance there are some big prices on show, including last season’s winner of the award, Mohammed Salah, at 10-1. Salah will need to become one of the Premier League’s greats if landing back-to-back accolades, as only Cristiano Ronaldo (2008 & 2007) and Thierry Henry (2004 & 2003) managed the feat since the first trophy was handed out in 1974.
For punters seeking additional clues as to where to put their money, then as with the top goalscorer, it’s worth taking into account the team players represent, as the big clubs dominated in providing the winner.
Man Utd (7)
With 19 of the last 21 winners coming via the above clubs, it could help to stick with players representing them, such as Arsenal, whose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be in store for a good season, as could the 8-1 favourite, Kevin Be Bruyne, who would need to become the first winner of the award for Manchester City. Tottenham’s Harry Kane has picked up plenty of awards in recent years, apart from this one (won the Young Player of the Year in 2015), which rates a 14-1 chance, though Chelsea’s, Eden Hazard lifted this trophy in 2015 and is 12-1 to do it again.
While Manchester City never produced a player to win the Player of the Year award, they did land last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year award courtesy of Leroy Sane, who is marked up as the bookies’ 7-1 favourite to repeat the feat. He will again face stiff competition from the winner of the previous two years in Delle Ali, who is still only 22 and 10-1 to win this trophy for the third time, while Liverpool’s newcomer, Naby Keita, is 8-1 along with Gabriel Jesus.
The big clubs may have dominated the Player of the Year, but with clubs like Aston Villa, Charlton, Newcastle and Leeds throwing up winners of the junior version, there could be some merit in considering Fulham’s fast improving 18-year-old, Ryan Sessegnon.
The Londoner made a name for himself in the Championship last season having notched 16 goals from midfield. The attention he received earned him both the Championship Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, and his star could shine even brighter should one of the bigger clubs such as Tottenham nab him in the January transfer window. At 16-1, Sessegnon looks an exciting punt for the season.
Highest Scoring Team
Manchester City set a new Premier League record last season when smashing 106 goals in 38 games, making it the third time in four years in which they scored most goals in the top flight.
City’s goal frenzy sees them start the season as 2-7 favourites to make it a fourth season in five years in topping the goals chart.
However, the numbers above suggest last season was very much a “one-off” in achieving the 100+, and suggesting they might bounce the other direction towards the 90-mark. If that proves the case, then Liverpool, who look sure to enjoy a good season, could be right on their tails having posted four consecutive improved goal tallies: 84-78-63-52. At the rate the Reds are scoring, and with the potent strike force they have in Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, they remain capable of getting near the 90-mark.
It’s hard to see any of the other clubs getting involved, with Arsenal regularly hitting the 70s, Manchester United yet to get beyond 70 goals during their last four attempts – including under a defensive Mourinho – while both Tottenham and Chelsea reached the mid-80s two seasons ago before dipping last term.
Manchester City just managed to win last season’s handicap off scratch (0) having held on from Burnley, but everything went their way and it would be very difficult for Pep Guardiola’s men to repeat that level of excellence.
A better option could be Fulham, who boast an excellent blend of young talent, experience and new blood via the addition of Jean Michel Seri and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Last season they showed their class with wins at Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Derby, while beating Wolves at home and then Aston Villa in the play-off final. The Whites get a 45-point assist on the handicap and can get close at decent odds of 12-1.
2018/19 Premier League ante-post bets (scale 1-5 points):
HIGHEST SCORING TEAM
5pts LIVERPOOL (10-3 Paddy Power)
TOP FOUR TEAMS (ANY ORDER)
4pts MAN CITY, LIVERPOOL, MAN UTD, TOTTENHAM (13-5 Paddy Power)
2pts MAN CITY, LIVERPOOL, MAN UTD, ARSENAL (15-2 Paddy Power)
1pt MAN CITY, LIVERPOOL, TOTTENHAM, ARSENAL (12-1 Paddy Power)
2pts NEWCASTLE UNITED (5-1 general)
PFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2pts RYAN SESSEGNON (16-1 William Hill, Boylesports)
1pt FULHAM +45 (12-1 Paddy Power, 10-1 bet365, Coral)
1pt SALAH TO SCORE 25+, AUBAMEYANG TO SCORE 20+ & MAHREZ TO SCORE 15+ LEAGUE GOALS (20-1 Paddy Power)