With the Football League now underway, the attention turns to the start of the Premier League with the top flight in England kicking off on Friday night as 20 hopefuls gather looking to have another position campaign.
Manchester City won the title once again last season but there appear to be more challengers to their crown this time around so it will be intriguing to see if they can hold off the chasing pack or if we have new champions.
2022-23 – Manchester City
2021-22 – Manchester City
2020-21 – Manchester City
2019-20 – Liverpool
2018-19 – Manchester City
2017-18 – Manchester City
2016-17 – Chelsea
2015-16 – Leicester City
2014-15 – Chelsea
2013-14 – Manchester City
Manchester City have won four of the last five titles and will go off as the 5/6 favourites to keep hold of their title. As with last season they have lengthened a touch after failing to win the Community Shield but they had the league won with three matches to spare. They have lost the likes of Ilkay Gundogan since last term but Mateo Kovacic is an able replacement for him. Riyad Mahrez is another to have departed but he leaves from a position where there is cover. We know that Guardiola is obsessed with league titles and City do look worthy favourites.
Arsenal were the closest challengers to Manchester City last season and they are 5/1 to go one better and win the league this time around. The Gunners will have Champions League football to contend with this season which will be something to factor into things but they have spent big to give themselves a chance of being successful. Declan Rice has come in for a huge fee while Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz have also come in, although how helpful the latter will be remains to be seen. Even so, Arsenal look stronger and should be closer to City as a result. Whether that equates to the title remains to be seen.
Liverpool had a disappointing season by their standards last term so that will act as motivation for them to be much better this time around. It turns out that it was a bit of a transitional campaign last year with the likes of Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho now a thing of the past. With Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and potentially Romeo Lavia coming into the squad the midfield has undergone the necessary modernisation and with the depth much stronger in attack Liverpool should be right there in the title race so long as they can be competent defensively.
Manchester United finished in the top four last season and won the Carabao Cup and they will be looking for further improvement this time around too. They have spent big to bring the number nine in that they have been craving for a while and so if Rasmus Hojlund is the success the fee paid suggests he should be then United should be capable of going well. There are still one or two concerns over them defensively but you sense the spending hasn’t concluded at Old Trafford yet so they might be better than their 11/1 quotes suggest once the window has closed.
Chelsea were an abomination of a team last season and have brought in Mauricio Pochettino to try and restore some semblance of normality to proceedings to Stamford Bridge. As ever, a big summer spend has taken place at the Bridge with Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson the most appealing signings, albeit it looks like the former is going to be out for a good while. It would be a surprise if more management isn’t done to this squad in the last few weeks of the window but even if it is Chelsea look a little light for a title tilt and 18/1 feels short as a result.
Newcastle United will be charged with continuing improvement with the money that they have backing them but I don’t think this will be the season where they turn that into a title challenge so the 25/1 on them doesn’t interest me, especially as they have Champions League football to manage as well. I see no reason why they would fade away though so the Magpies might be ones for the other markets assuming they keep everyone fit throughout the campaign.
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Best of the Rest
Tottenham Hotspur have changed manager again in the summer and are 50/1 to win the league as a result. You would imagine that if Ange Postecoglou is to launch a title challenge then it is imperative that Spurs get into September with Harry Kane still at the club. There should be natural improvement in Tottenham if they keep hold of their captain because they basically lost the plot off the field, with those in the dugout really not helping them much. Tottenham won’t win the league but if the stars align they could push for the top four with no European distractions.
Brighton and Hove Albion were the huge improvers last season and that is generally what they do so if they improve again this term then a team who finished in the top six last time out should be able to push for a place in the top four. Like a lot of teams at this stage of proceedings though, Brighton are involved in a transfer saga with Moises Caicedo and in order to be confident about their credentials he would need to remain at the Amex Stadium. Brighton aren’t title challengers but the top four is within reach.
It is always hard to find value at the top end of the Premier League, especially when we are tying money up for the better part of nine months. I still expect Manchester City to win the title but they can win it at 5/6 without me on unless we can find some added value and that might come in the form of City to retain the title and Sheffield United to finish bottom of the table. City just look like they have got so much in hand on the rest that even the challengers strengthening only really gets them closer not level with them. Most judges appear to have Luton Town as bankers to finish bottom but I actually think the value lies with Sheffield United. Had Rob Edwards been the Luton manager all of last season and performed to the levels he did during his time at Kenilworth Road, the Hatters would have finished above Sheffield United. Since then, the Blades have lost a key player in Iliman Ndiaye and could be about to lose another in Sander Berge. Their financial issues haven’t been kept a secret and if they are impotent at the top end of the pitch and pressure is pot on them defensively they could crack. Luton have brought in seven new signings to strengthen them and at the prices City to top the table and Sheffield United to prop it up seems like a fair bet to me.
The more competitive market at the top end of the table comes in the without Manchester City offering. Arsenal are the favourites to chase the champions home once again but the better bet lies with Liverpool for me. Arsenal are juggling Premier League and Champions League football for the first time in a while and already they have picked up a key injury with Gabriel Jesus on the sidelines. Liverpool had to transition a little last season but they have replaced a midfield which grew old and slow together and have done it with younger, dynamic players who are very comfortable on the ball. I can’t see Liverpool giving much for the Europa League over a Premier League title challenge and with forward options as deep as most in the division, and certainly deeper than Arsenal who would rate as the big dangers, the 3/1 on Liverpool chasing City home looks fair to me.
Back Man City Top/Sheffield United Bottom for a 2/10 stake at 5.50 with William Hill
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Back Liverpool (w/o Man City) to win Premier League for a 2/10 stake at 4.00 with BetVictor