WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview and two each-way selections for the sponsored card at Fontwell Park on Wednesday 20th October
Liverpool’s success in winning the League title last season has not persuaded the bookies to ditch Manchester City as their favourite to win this time round. Manchester City have won the Premier League an incredible four times in the past eight seasons and for best odds head to 888sport who offer odds of 4/5 that City will lift the Premier League trophy once again in May next year.
There was a thirty-year gap between Liverpool’s last League win and their emotional triumph last season. Can the Reds achieve a back-to-back double? Bookie Bet365 offers odds of 9/4 that Liverpool will win the 2020/21 Premier League title. These are notably longer odds than those on offer for favourites Manchester City, reflecting the consistency of City’s performances over the years under the unwavering management of Pep Guardiola. But Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, may reckon that 9/4 is a good value bet given his brilliant track record to date at Liverpool. Incredibly, the Reds have not lost a Premier League home fixture since April 2017 and they will be seeking another win when they kick off the new season on Saturday when they take on newly-promoted Leeds United.
Chelsea scored back-to-back Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06, under the management of Jose Morinho, but that feels a long time ago. Way too long for owner, Roman Abramovich, and loyal fans. Frank Lampard, appointed Manager in July last year, is hungry for another big title for his club and the Blues are investing heavily in new talent to make it happen. Signings include Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz with moves afoot to bring in Senegal goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, from Rennes for a fee of around £25 million. But the bookies are not confident that this major investment will be sufficient, and best odds on offer for Chelsea to win the Premier League this season are 11/1 from William Hill.
Manchester United, too, are unfancied to win the title this time round, with odds of 20/1 available from bookie Betway. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pulled the team up from sixth place in 2018/19 to third place last season…can he keep the trajectory going up? United were a whopping 33 points behind Liverpool last season, and 15 points behind Manchester City. Much will depend upon improving the quality of the team’s defence and continuing to enhance overall performance.
The conviction of team captain, Harry Maguire, for bodily harm and attempted bribery in a Greek court a few weeks ago, will not help matters. Oh, and nor will the ignominious behaviour of Mason Greenwood, the 18-year old forward who was sent home from Iceland in disgrace after breaking COVID-19 protocols in spectacular fashion by inviting two young Icelandic women to the England team hotel to play dominoes (or something!) with himself and Manchester City player Phil Foden.
A Top 4 finish really does matter for the leading clubs in the Premier League, as the top four clubs automatically progress to the lucrative and prestigious UEFA Champions League group stages. It is no surprise that the bookies consider Manchester City and Liverpool to be shoo-ins as Top 4 finishers, with Unibet offering odds of 1/24 for Manchester City and 1/14 for Liverpool. Chelsea, too, are hotly tipped with Skybet’s odds of 1/2.
The major question then is which team will achieve that coveted fourth place? Manchester United are, at this early pre-season stage, the likely contender with odds of 8/15 from bookie Betway. Leicester City, who finished in 5th position last season, only four points down from rivals Chelsea and Manchester United (both on 66 points), are not fancied to be in the Top 4 with bookmaker Paddy Power offering odds of 10/1 that the Foxes will be in the Top 4.
Indeed the bookmakers place three other teams above Leicester in the reckoning – Arsenal (odds of 11/4 from BetFred), Tottenham Hotspur (odds of 7/2 from William Hill) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (odds of 13/2, also from William Hill). Why are Leicester considered so poor this time round? The lacklustre finish to last season is a major factor, with only four wins in the final 17 matches, and Manager Brendan Rodgers will need to recruit wisely and well to engender more consistency in his team and prove the critics wrong.
The recently concluded 2019/20 season saw Leeds United arrive back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence with West Brom also returning to top-flight action as a top-2 finisher. Fulham joined them after beating Brentford in the play-off final.
The leap up from Championship football to Premier League is never an easy one for teams that often lack the resources, in terms of players and back-room staff, of their well-established Premier League competitors, and with depressing frequency promoted teams slip back to the Championship after only one or two seasons. This season, however, the pundits reckon that Leed United will stay up but raise major question marks about the chances of West Brom and Fulham.
Bookie Paddy Power offers odds of 11/10 that West Brom will be relegated by the end of the season on 23 May 2021. Bet 365 offers identical odds of 11/10 that Fulham will be relegated. Aston Villa escaped relegation by only one point last season and it is not surprising that bookie William Hill offers odds of 2/1 that Villa will be moving down to the Championship next time round.
Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Burnley are also considered contenders for relegation. Bookmaker William Hill offer odds of only 9/2 that Crystal Palace – despite their solid 14th place finish in the 2019/20 season – will be relegated, with Newcastle United – who finished in 13th place – on offer from Betway at odds of 5/2. With another surprise for punters, bookie Betway also offer odds for Burnley of only 5/2 for relegation, despite the team’s very respectable 10th place finish last season. All of which suggests that there may be some good value bets prior to the start of play this Saturday.