by Alastair Bull
If you think the English Premier League is effectively between five or six teams, you’re probably right. Still, it would pay to remember 2015-16.
Most people thought it would be the usual suspects that season, and if there were any teams with a chance of winning the premiership for the first time, it was Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur.
However, nobody told Leicester City. They were favorites to be relegated from the premiership, but instead they caused what was arguably the biggest upset in sports betting history. They began the season at odds of +50000 to win the premiership – the same odds as were offered for anybody finding Elvis Presley alive. But under the guidance of manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes shocked the sporting world by winning with games to spare. It cost English bookmakers an estimated £15 million, mainly through small bets at the beginning of the season.
“Manchester City are set to start odds-on to win the title as 2019 English Premier League favorites”
You won’t see odds like that at the start of the English Premier League season again. This year, it’s more likely to be the longest price on offer will be around +10000 on clubs like Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Huddersfield Town and Fulham, while Cardiff City is likely to be rated at +20000 or slightly more.
Despite the example of Leicester City, it’s difficult to see any of these teams figuring in the fight for the title. Not after Manchester City’s record-breaking effort in 2017-18, when they set records for most points, most wins, most goals, and biggest winning points margin, among others.
Manchester City are set to start odds-on to win the title as 2019 English Premier League favorites with -150 odds. Pep Guardiola’s team has added Riyadh Mahrez, one of Leicester’s heroes of 2015-16, to a squad which includes players like Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva. If you fancy them to win, it might pay to get on early as a good start could well mean the best odds will be at the beginning of the season.
The strongest challengers on paper could be Liverpool, who are rated as such with +400 odds as the second favorite. Still seeking their first English Premier League title, Liverpool were a distant fourth in 2017-18 but did beat Manchester City three of the four times they met and were the beaten finalist in the Champions League. They addressed their apparent goalkeeping difficulties with the signing of Brazilian number one Alisson, a £65 million purchase from Roma. They also added Fabinho, Naby Keita, and Xherdan Shaqiri. Most importantly, they still have Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah.
Manchester United don’t seem to have quite the same depth, but Jose Mourinho’s squad still includes two World Cup standouts, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku. Perhaps the best of the teams likely to start at longer odds is Tottenham Hotspur, despite what has been a quiet off-season in terms of acquisitions to date. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Son Heung-min, Hugo Lloris, and Jan Vertonghen still give the team a great deal of quality heading in to the English Premier League season.
Chelsea and Arsenal both start the season with new managers. Former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri has a good squad to call on, which has been bolstered by Napoli midfielder Jorginho, and if they can retain Eden Hazard they should not be underestimated. Arsenal, who replaced long-standing manager Arsene Wenger with Unai Emery, may have a season of rebuilding ahead of them.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS:
1. Manchester City (-150)
2. Liverpool (+400)
3. Tottenham Hotspur (+1600)
BEST OUTSIDE BET TO WIN: Tottenham (+1600)