The Premier League returns in just over a week and having finally settled down in the aftermath of France’s disappointing Euro defeat (see last post); we’re back and ready to look forward at domestic football once again.
Antoine Griezmann’s heroic effort has ensured we should be heading into the new season with a bit of extra cash to use, so why not make the most of the ante-post markets and try and snaffle some season-long value?
There are a whole host of markets, more than we’ve ever had to enjoy before, yet it may pay to stick down the traditional route and cover Premier League title winner and Top Goalscorer markets to begin with, before moving on to special markets at a later date.
Cup competitions can often be a huge question mark, which each individual manager having their own opinion on how to set-up their sides in-terms of strength, so it may be best left until we see how the new managers bed in during the early rounds.
So, without further ado, onto the Premier League 2016/17 season!
Premier League Outright – Chelsea @ 13/2 (Various)
Firstly, we’ll start with the Premier League outright market in what looks the most competitive season in possibly the history of the league. Usually, there will be a short-price favourite with perhaps one or maybe two sides that could realistically challenge them.
(Excluding last season, which was just an anomaly for so many reasons…)
However this season we have Manchester City, worthy favourites with the addition of Pep Guardiola and recent strong signings in Gundogan and Sane.
Then, ‘The Special One’ returns with the unenviable task of returning Manchester United to their perch, yet the signings of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Bailly with the potential for further (cough *Pogba* cough), as well as the emerging talents of Rashford and Martial.
They have to be serious contenders for the title, while Arsenal and Spurs are always there or thereabouts and both Chelsea and Liverpool can concentrate on solely the Premier League, with no European football as a distraction. Oh, and Leicester could retain the title? Though, not for me.
For me, the prices reflect the Manchester side’s chances fairly well at the head of the market but the value may lie with Chelsea.
Liverpool’s tremendous title challenge when they last had European football showed the benefit of having a week to prepare for games and this is what they and Chelsea will get to enjoy this year. Klopp’s Reds are a work-in-progress and he may need another year until he fully beds in his philosophy.
However Chelsea’s new manager, Antonio Conte, is walking in to a solid unit, who began to realise their roles towards the back-end of last season. They lacked discipline at times and their key players struggled to make an impact early on, however with time to prepare for their big weekend games and the new regimented approach from Conte, Chelsea have to be real challengers,
Michy Batshuayi adds an extra dimension to the side, as does N’Golo Kante, while the potential move for Kalidou Koulibaly and Romelu Lukaku would further add to the strength of the side. There is less emphasis on depth this year, without Europe to focus on, and as we seen with Conte’s Italy side during the Euros, he can form a side that are extremely hard to break down and very hard to contain on the counter.
Nemanja Matic was rather underwhelming in the system used by Chelsea last season but given Conte’s love for a holding midfielder, it would be no surprise to see him build on his earlier promise in a Chelsea shirt.
He is fantastic at breaking up play and provides the stability for the creative midfielders, such as Fabregas and also box-to-box midfielders, such as Kante, to go about and complete their roles to the best of their ability.
Diego Costa is a solid enough striking option, those it would be no surprise to see him used in the same way Pelle was for Italy, creating for the likes of Eden Hazard who will be coming from midfield/out wide.
Last season’s transitional phase will have been a real wake-up call and now with a solid base to start from and no European football to take precedence, Chelsea look value to win the Premier League at 13/2.
Premier League Top Goalscorer – Daniel Sturridge @ 25/1 (Various)
Next up is the Top Goalscorer market and as usual, it’s headed by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. If the awesome Argentinian stays fit for the entire season he is sure to be there or thereabout come the end of the year, yet with his fitness issues, is it worth taking a rather short price?
It is often worth taking a gamble on fitness, given injury can strike at any stage, yet with our selection, that eventuality appears to have been factored into the price.
The man, of course, is Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool’s main man has a record of injuries and fitness issues but given when fit, he will almost certainly be Liverpool’s lone striker (supported by two wide men) he looks outstanding value at 25.1,
There is no doubting his superb finishing and natural goalscoring ability and now that Liverpool can focus solely on the league, Jurgen Klopp wont have to balance out his playing time between league and European games. He can manage his star striker, with only one game a week in-store and this may well be key to getting the best out of Sturridge,
There is no questioning his best season came back when Liverpool came within touching distance of winning the league (scoring 21 PL goals) and it was that season when he enjoyed his most consistent spell of playing time.
Liverpool weren’t in Europe and he had a nice break between games which seemed to bode well for his fitness. If Klopp can reproduce this again, now the Reds aren’t in Europe, then Sturridge could be the man to guide Liverpool bac into the Champions League.
Coutinho, Firmino and Origi, as well as the new signings, all offer a creative talent that is likely to ensure Sturridge receives plenty of service and as such, he should be able to make his presence felt towards the top of the goalscorer tables.
At 25/1 he looks big enough to take a chance on and if he stays fit for a large part of the season, it would be a surprise if he were not to at least go close to landing each-way money.
Chelsea to win the Premier League 16/17 @ 13/2 (Various)
Daniel Sturridge to be Premier League top goalscorer (each-way) in 16/17 @ 25/1 (Various)