Premier League 2016/2017 Betting Preview
Leicester City’s Premier League triumph will go down as the biggest upset in history of English football, and it will certainly take some beating in terms of shock value, but the sale of Kante to Chelsea may prove to have scuppered their chances of getting anywhere near the top four this season. Whilst the likes of Mahrez and Vardy got most of the plaudits last season, it is Kante who is by far the most irreplaceable of the Leicester squad, with boss Ranieri going as far as saying ‘If Chelsea bought Kante, it is because he played as two players last season. The referee counted 11, but we were 12’ – he was that impressive.
Whereas last seasons title race was won by undeniable team spirit, the make up of this seasons title race will be much different with much being made in the press of the new managers taking control of the top teams. There is a genuine feeling that Conte at Chelsea, Mourinho at Manchester United and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City will make this years title race the most hotly contested in recent memory. When you add to that mix the fact that this will be Klopp’s first full season at Liverpool, you begin to see why much of the focus has been directed at the dug out rather than at the pitch. Following this lead, this is where our Premier League preview is aimed, with each of these four clubs chances rated.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Last Season: 4th
Title Odds: 13/5
Pep has gone from a three horse race in Spain, to a two horse race in Germany, to a job in a league where the reigning champions were 5000/1 outsiders! He may find out very soon that there is no such thing in the Premier League as an easy 3 points – gone will be the routine 5-0, 6-0 away wins and in its place will come the so called ‘wet and windy nights in Stoke’.
Another factor worth noting is the state of the squads that he has inherited. At Barcelona he had a squad laden with Spanish players conquering all before them at international level (and Messi!). Whilst at Bayern he took over the reigning European Champions who’s core players went on to win the World Cup with Germany.
At City he has taken over an ageing squad who only just edged out a massively underperforming Manchester United on goal difference last season and who where miles off winning the league. His signings so far have shown he is addressing this and building a young squad for the future – Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones will feature for years to come – but this year will be too soon to mount a sustained challenge over 38 games.
Instead, City make much more appeal to win the Champions League. They have enough individual talent to win single games, and if they can bed Stones in early enough then defensive frailties could be eased. When you consider Pep’s history in this competition, this could be their year.
Back Manchester City to win the Champions League – 12/1 Various bookmakers
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Last season: 5th
Title Odds: 18/5
Mourinho has finally landed his dream job at Manchester United, and his time in charge has been very impressive so far. Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Pogba (finally) are all world class players, and the type of players Manchester United are accustomed to seeing come through their doors. Whilst Moyes and Van Gaal came before him and wasted an astronomical amount of money on under-achievers and squad players, Mourinho has put his stamp on the squad immediately with these three marquee signings.
Mourinho’s pedigree itself is undeniable and his record at his former clubs speaks for itself (eight major league titles since 2003), and this does genuinely feel like a perfect match for both parties involved. The drain of Europa League football is likely to prove to be a headache but I believe Mourinho could relegate the Europa League to the reserve team. Mourinho is all about the big prizes and it is hard to see him wasting time on the Europa league whilst there is a Premier League to be won – something which he will be putting all his efforts into this season.
Having said that, this season may be a bit too soon for his players to go all the way, but expect a United team with Mourinho at the helm to go far.
Back the dual forecast of Chelsea/Manchester United – 22/1 with Unibet
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Last Season: 8th
Title Odds: 9/1
‘Jurgen Klopp is unbelievable’ so sings the Liverpool faithful, and he will need to show it this season to justify the hype surrounding his arrival and short time at Anfield so far. Klopp has had a clear out this summer and got rid of the dead wood that has been bloating the Liverpool squad the last few seasons, but has so far failed to land a ‘big’ name player. The enthusiastic German has remained philosophical about this saying ‘why spend 80 million on a player who can be injured and miss the season’- and instead appears to be happy spending that money on a few players who fit his philosophy. Add to this that they have managed (so far) to keep hold of Coutinho, and may yet manage to get 30+ games from Sturridge this season, and you can see the ripples of a mini-revolution going on at Anfield.
Without the distraction of Europa League football Liverpool should fare a lot better than last season – there was a definite bias towards the Europa league last season in terms of squad rotation, particularly towards the end of the season – and whilst it is still too early to talk of them as title contenders, they can do enough to push Arsenal and Tottenham for a top four place.
Back Liverpool to finish in the top 4 – 13/8 with BetFred
Manger: Antonio Conte
Last Season: 10th
Title Odds: 13/2
Conte is the new manager who excites me the most. His work at Juventus during his tenure there impresses much more than Guardiola’s in Germany. Conte took over Juventus in a similar fashion to how he now finds Chelsea – that is an underperforming club with big ambitions – and he certainly managed to turn them around, re-building them between 2011 and 2014, and this in league with more than one rival to the top spot (much like the premier league).
Just like Liverpool, Chelsea will be without European football to distract them and should keep players fresher for the long haul. And even without the lure of champions League football they have still managed to land the signing of the summer in Kante.
Kante was instrumental in Leicester’s triumph last season and will bring to Chelsea the type of hard work and determination which was so badly missing in their horror show last time around. And if Conte can get a tune out of some of the underperforming players from last season, then it could genuinely feel like they have made five or six top new signings. If this turns out to be the case, then there is no reason why Chelsea can’t put last season behind them and go all the way this year.
Back Chelsea to win the League – 13/2 with Paddy Power
It’s also worth backing Lukaku topscorer e/w- 12/1 various – on the understanding he will join Chelsea (and on the basis he will bag a hatfull at Everton regardless).