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    The Sputnik Intelligent Punter’s Guide to the 2019/20 Football Season: Part Two - The Premiership

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    The new English Premiership season kicks off on Friday evening when last season’s runners-up (and Champions League winners) Liverpool take on newly-promoted Norwich.

    How will the division pan out this year - and what are the best bets?

    A few key stats are worth bearing in mind before placing ante-post bets. Unlike in the Championship (previewed by me here last week) market leaders have an excellent record.

    Only once this century (Chelsea in 2015/6), has the favourite failed to finish in the first three. The favourite or the second favourite has won the Premiership in 13 of the last 15 seasons.  The most spectacular exception was, of course, Leicester City's fabulous 5000-1 win in 2015/6. While it pays to focus on the top two on the betting for 'win' purposes, there is sometimes good each-way value about placed teams.

    Turning our attention to relegation, in 21 of the last 24 seasons at least one of the relegated teams had been promoted the previous season. Last year two promoted sides (Cardiff and Fulham) went straight back down, so in your relegation portfolio, it makes sense to include at least one promoted side. Teams that only narrowly avoided relegation in May have a relatively high chance of being relegated the following season, with Huddersfield, 16th in 2017/8, and then bottom in 2018/9, being the latest example of this trend.

    It's also worth looking at whether a team is on a downward trajectory, standing still, or has forward momentum. A number of relegated teams ended the previous year in poor form, West Brom in 2018/9, a good example.

    Now let's take a closer look at the 20 Premiership teams and their prospects, in alphabetical order.

    ARSENAL: Best odds: 50-1

    Improved their points tally by seven last year to finish fifth (just two points off third), and with further modest improvement likely given squad additions the Gunners are a tempting each-way bet at currents odds to finish third, especially as there’s question marks about their rivals for a top-four berth.

    Prediction: Third

    ASTON VILLA Odds: 1000-1.

    Promoted last year via the play-offs; the stats tell us that teams that go up by that route are in special danger of being relegated the season afterwards. However, the last two times the Villains were promoted to the top flight (in 1975 and 1988), they stayed around for 12 years and 28 years respectively and while it should be close, history suggests they may just be able to survive. 

    Prediction: Strugglers 

    A.F.C. BOURNEMOUTH. Odds: 1000-1. 

    Eddie Howe's men started last season very brightly but had a poor second half of the season, and that gives real grounds for concern for this campaign. That said Howe has strengthened the defence and with a bit more solidity they’ll probably gain enough points to stay up.

    Prediction: Strugglers

    BRIGHTON Odds: 2000-1.

    Although they reached the FA Cup semi-finals, their League form slumped alarmingly from the turn of the year and they ended up avoiding relegation by just two points. Graham Potter replaces Chris Hughton in the dug-out, but without major squad strengthening he faces a tough job in keeping the Seagulls up.

    Prediction: Relegated.

    BURNLEY  Odds: 2000-1

    If anything, the way manager Sean Dyche turned things around last season, after a terrible start, was as impressive as the work he did to take Burnley to 7th place in 2017/8. There are no Europa League distractions this time around and with a strengthened squad, mid-table security should be achieved.

    Prediction: Mid-table

    CHELSEA Odds: 33-1.

    The club’s taken quite a risk appointing the relatively inexperienced Frank Lampard as manager and there’s also the departure of influential Eden Hazard- and the transfer embargo to factor in. It looks like a season of transition is on the cards at Stamford Bridge, where Cup success and maintaining a top-four position would probably please most fans.

    Prediction: Top six

    Chelsea FC fans
    © AP Photo /
    Chelsea FC fans

    CRYSTAL PALACE Odds: 1000-1

    Zaha stays- at least for the time being, which is important, but Palace, who are excellent away,  need to improve their home form (only five wins last year), if they are to kick on and leave relegation worries far behind them. 

    Prediction: Mid-table

    EVERTON Odds: 250-1.

    After a poor mid-season the Toffees finished 2018/9 quite strongly, particularly at home. That gives grounds for optimism that Marco Silva’s men will be able to challenge for a top six-position.

    Prediction: Top half

    LEICESTER Odds: 250-1.

    Maguire has gone to Man Utd, which is a blow, but Brendan Rodgers started well at the Foxes last season and with plenty of bite in the final third they should be able to maintain a mid-table or upper mid-table position quite comfortably.

    Prediction: Top half

    LIVERPOOL  Odds: 3-1

    Despite losing just one match they narrowly failed to take the title last year, but improved their points haul by 22 points, and so the momentum is very much with them. Another very close tussle with Man City looks on the cards, but this time, the Reds may just have the edge.

    Prediction: Champions

    From left: Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid FC (Madrid, Spain), Mohamed Salah from Liverpool FC (Liverpool, England) and Isco from Real Madrid FC during the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid FC
    © Sputnik / Stringer
    From left: Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid FC (Madrid, Spain), Mohamed Salah from Liverpool FC (Liverpool, England) and Isco from Real Madrid FC during the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid FC

    MAN CITY Odds: 4-9.

    Winner for the past two seasons, acquiring an aggregate total of 198 points, it’s hard to back against them, but winning the title for third year running won’t be easy and the focus on landing the Champions League for the very first time may just impact on League results in the final part of the season.

    Prediction: Runners-up

    MAN UTD  Odds: 40-1. 

    Results improved at first under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Mourinho exited but then there was another demoralising slump at the finish, which doesn’t bode well for this campaign. James, Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have been brought in but other transfer targets missed and overall the squad doesn’t look strong enough to compete for the title.

    Prediction: Top six

    NEWCASTLE  Odds: 1000-1

    Losing the brilliant Benitez is a big blow and new gaffer Steve Bruce will face a big challenge matching last season’s 13th place finish. Another battle with relegation looks likely, but one suspects they’ll just have enough about them to stay up.

    Prediction: Strugglers

    NORWICH  Odds: 2500-1.

    The Canaries scored for fun when winning the Championship last season and fans will be hoping they’ll be the new Bournemouth, and not the new Blackpool, as they return to the top flight after a three-year absence.  They’re likely to be involved in some high-scoring matches, and while it’s likely to be a hard campaign, they might just have enough about them to avoid relegation.

    Prediction: Strugglers

    SHEFFIELD UTD Odds: 2500-1.

    Chris Wilder worked wonders getting the Blades promoted last season- just two years after being in League One, but it will be an even greater feat keeping them up, bearing in mind the last time they were promoted, in 2005/6 they went straight back down. They’re capable of causing some surprises particularly in the early stages of the season, and while you can’t rule out them doing better than expected, the trends suggest they’re likely to go down. 

    Prediction: Relegated

    SOUTHAMPTON Odds: 1000-1

    The Saints have finished 17th and 16th the last two seasons, and although they did look a lot brighter after Ralph Hasenhuttl took over in December the danger signs are most definitely there. It could be nip and tuck, but there are goals in this side and that may help keep them afloat once again.

    Prediction: Strugglers

    TOTTENHAM Odds: 20-1

    Reaching the final of the Champions League was a terrific achievement but their exploits in that competition may have contributed to a gradual falling away in their league form in the second half of the season. Playing in their new stadium is a boost though and while matching last year’s third position could be hard, they should still keep a top-four berth.

    Prediction: Fourth

    Tottenham's Harry Kane walks past Liverpool's players as they celebrate after winning the Champions League final soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Saturday, June 1, 2019.
    © AP Photo / Felipe Dana
    Tottenham's Harry Kane walks past Liverpool's players as they celebrate after winning the Champions League final soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Saturday, June 1, 2019.

    WATFORD  Odds: 1000-1.

    The Hornets attained their highest finishing position (11th) since 1987 but their league form did tail off towards the closing weeks of the campaign and this year could be tougher. While a season of struggle and even a flirt with relegation can’t be ruled out they are most likely to finish in lower mid-table.

    Prediction: Mid-table

    WEST HAM Odds: 500-1. 

    The Hammers finished strongly and they’ve made some decent additions to the squad, so there are genuine grounds for believing that a good season could be on the cards. At best, Manuel Pellegrini’s men could be surprising challengers in the top six, (or even the top four), more likely they’ll be around eighth or ninth.

    Prediction: Top-half

    WOLVES Odds: 250-1. 

    Had a great first season back up in the top flight last year but with the added distraction of Europa League football this year, which will place extra pressures on the squad, improving on 9th place could be tricky. They have far too much quality to struggle, but they may slip back a few places in the league.

    Prediction: Mid-table

    VERDICT:

    Last year Man City won the title and Liverpool the Champions League, but there are reasons for believing it could be the other way round in 2019/20. There’s nothing Liverpool fans would love more than for the club to win its first league title for 30 years, and there’s nothing City fans (and its owners) would love more than to finally win the Champions League In the closing weeks of the campaign, where the main focus of the clubs lie could prove decisive.

    Elsewhere, the battle for the other top four places is likely to be tight again, with marginal preference for improving Arsenal at 50-1 making it into third. The battle for relegation could involve several clubs, with Sheffield Utd and Brighton looking in particular danger.

    Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar

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    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Manchester City, Chelsea FC, Manchester United, Liverpool FC, English Premiership, Premier League, football
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