2017/18 Premier League Preview and Betting Tips

2017/18 Premier League betting preview

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Premier League Tips

Leicester City were brought back down to earth, domestically at least, following their magnificent title winning triumph in 2015/16. Claudio Ranieri’s men struggled to get near those same levels from the outset and combined with their excellent run to the quarter finals of the Champions League, they came very close to being dragged into the relegation mire. Ranieri was promptly relieved of his duties early in 2017 and replaced by assistant Craig Shakespeare. The Foxes form picked up dramatically and were able to secure their Premier League safety with something in hand. The challenge will be keeping hold of the core players that have been instrumental in the success of the last couple of years, notably Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez who have been linked with moves away all summer long. With no European football to worry about this season you would expect them to be comfortable enough but a bad start and the loss of that duo could yet see them dragged into it.

Bournemouth and West Brom would both have been delighted with their top ten finishes last season and they were richly deserved as well – albeit achieved in very different fashions. The Cherries conceded the fourth most goals of any team in the league whilst Tony Pulis’ men were much more stubborn and conceded 16 goals fewer over the course of the 38 games. Considering there was only a point between them it illustrates how you can have success with polar opposite approaches to the game. The challenge for Pulis and Eddie Howe is maintain that level of performance for another season and with West Ham, Stoke and Leicester all hot on their heels, it will be difficult to repeat. Bournemouth have brought in Jermaine Defoe to add to what was an already impressive forward line and his goals will be crucial in keeping their head above water whilst West Brom have acquired the services of Jay Rodriguez to add to their firepower and give Solomon Rondon more support. Neither team can afford to be complacent and you feel that survival will once again be their priority.

Stoke were one of the teams who disappointed most in last season’s Premier League which is something of a surprise considering their tremendous consistency. Mark Hughes has put together an impressive squad, particularly in the forward areas, so it was only natural that people expected them to do better than what was eventually a 13th place finish. It’s testament to Hughes and his squad though that despite being involved in the bottom half for much of the season, they never looked in real danger of doing down, but they’re a team that have to improve this coming term.

Promoted Clubs

Newcastle United and Brighton were neck and neck for all of last season and it was eventually the Magpies who pipped the Seagulls at the death to the Championship title. Both are making very different journeys to the Premier League, of course, with Newcastle making a return to the top flight after one season away and rightfully returning to this level, whereas Brighton will be playing in their maiden Premier League season. It’s been Brighton who have been the busier of the two in the transfer window, however, as Rafael Benitez grows ever more frustrated at the lack of transfers coming into St James’. Both are very effective at what they do and will feel they stand a good chance of staying in the division but will have to adapt quickly to the demands of playing at this level – something that many struggle with. Huddersfield were the biggest surprise packages of the second tier in 2016/17 and are many people’s favourites to go straight back down. It will no doubt be a tough ask for the club but they have a shrewd manager and play a style of football that may surprise one or two established teams.

In for a battle

Burnley were the only promoted team from last year to survive and it was virtually down to their excellent record at Turf Moor – especially in the first half of the season. Sean Dyce knows that it would be unsustainable to expect them to continue to be so strong at home and will have to pick up more points on the road. Their cause has not been helped, however, with Andre Ward deciding to move to Watford ahead of the opening weekend.

Crystal Palace and Watford have new managers at the helm this season as Frank De Boer has replaced Sam Allardyce whilst Marco Silva takes over from Walter Mazzarri. De Boer has been out of football since being sacked at Inter and Silva has already got one relegation to his name in the Premier League following Hull’s demise, so they will feel they both have something to prove. There is undoubted quality in both squads however they have long struggled for consistency at this level and will hope that their new coaches can instil that with a view to keeping their Premier League status.

It was Swansea’s turn to pull off something of a miraculous escape as they ended the season with four wins and a draw to consign Hull to the Championship. Paul Clement was a good appointment halfway through the season and was able to get his team on an immediate upward curve. They remained a streaky team despite that and going on runs of six or seven defeats usually does not end well over the course of a campaign. Clement is likely to be without Gylfi Sigurdsson as his move to Everton nears closer but he should have a substantial amount of money to play with for replacements, and they will need them as the Icelandic players has been outstanding for the Swans.

Betting Preview

Title Winners

I noted in part one of this preview that I felt there were six teams who feel they hold realistic chances of winning the title this season and will set their stall out accordingly. I’m not convinced half of those are capable, though. Arsenal and Liverpool will go through spells of the campaign where they look like they have what it takes to finish ahead of the rest and certainly have a first eleven that are good enough to beat anybody on their day. It’s the inconsistency that blights both of these clubs, however, that will be their undoing and I learnt the hard way when selecting Liverpool as one of my selections in 2016/17. Their defences were not good enough last season with Arsenal conceding 44 goals and Liverpool two fewer. I don’t believe either have strengthened their backlines anywhere near enough and it will prove to be their undoing once again. Liverpool will also have to contend with playing Champions League football and that will also stretch their squad should they get past Hoffenheim in the Playoff round.

I’m also not sold on Manchester United despite the money that has been spent and the track record Mourinho possesses. United had the opposite problems to Arsenal and Liverpool in that they were defensively sound but struggled at the opposite end of the pitch, managing only 54 goal – to put that in context it is 32 goals fewer than second place Spurs. Mourinho will hope that Lukaku’s signing will go a long way to solving that and Matic should also allow Paul Pogba to play in a more advanced role. I certainly expect them to have a better campaign than last time around, but falling short of winning the title itself.

That leaves us with Chelsea, Spurs and City. Chelsea have probably not been as productive as you would like in this transfer window knowing that they will have to cope with playing European football alongside defending their title. But they have a winning mentality and their squad is certainly not paper thin that some would have you believe. A couple of more signings between now and the end of the transfer window and they should be equipped to compete domestically and in the Champions League. Another factor will be getting Eden Hazard back fit as soon as possible as he is key to their attacking play, and when fit he’ll be a great asset for the new man Morata. It’s virtually impossible to see them finishing out the top three all things considered.

Spurs have made improvement each season under Pochettino and it’s logical to expect that they can make further progress again this season. Their home form was scintillating and although the move to Wembley may well interrupt that, they can make big strides away from home which may balance things out. I would expect them to sign at least two players before the close of the window and the manager has said as much in recent days. They won’t be helped with the speculation surrounding Danny Rose and if he does move it will be a big loss but they’re rock solid providing they keep the likes of Kane, Eriksen and Wanyama fit. Another positive season the cards and you get the sense that the Champions League is not as much of a priority for them as it will be for Chelsea or City at this stage of their development.

Manchester City head the markets this year and bookmakers are taking no chances on them consider the vast amount of money that has been spent. Guardiola is now moulding his team and will be happier going into this season than 12 months ago. Gabrial Jesus hit the ground running when arriving in January and despite missing a chunk of it through injury, he looks to be high class player and will dovetail well with the proven genius of Sergio Aguero. Another player City fans will be looking forward to seeing more of this year is Ilkay Gundogan who missed the majority of last season through injury. Once he’s back up and running he’ll be crucial to how this City team play.

I’m torn between City and Chelsea for this year’s title with Spurs just falling short once again. City’s defence has to improve as they cannot outscore teams all season long but you know that Guardiola will attempt to do that by stifling the opposition high up the park as opposed to dropping off them. It’s high risk and City are yet to demonstrate how they can do that so that edges me towards Chelsea repeating their feat of last year, especially at the prices.

Chelsea to win Premier League 4/1 Betfair

Relegation

Huddersfield are odds on to go straight back down and it’s hard to argue against them being favourites for the drop, however I’m not keen on putting them up at such prohibitive odds and happy to look elsewhere. Burnley, Watford and Brighton are next in the market and will likely be involved in the bottom eight but other than Burnley – who again I think are too short – I think there is one team who will struggle more than any of them, and that’s Swansea. Paul Clement is an excellent coach and done a great job to get the Swans out of their predicament, but he is still learning his trade as a manager and the Premier League relegation battle is unforgiving. With the expected loss of their best player and key creator, it’s going to get even harder. There is no guarantees that the money they get for Sigurdsson will be reinvested in players who can fill that void which, so close to the beginning of the season, makes me against them even more than I was at the start of the summer.

Swansea to be relegated 9/4 @ Paddypower