This weekend it’s all about the start of the Premier League football season, and I’ve found some worthy punts across a variety of markets.
The Richest League in the World
As the most watched football league in the world, the English Premier League (EPL) generates billions of pounds in TV revenue, and also offers the lucrative reward of UEFA Champions League football for the clubs that finish in the top four places.
Being promoted to the Premier League is also highly lucrative, as the three teams that make the grade can look forward to at least £30 million each in TV money during their first season in England’s top-flight. Also, further monies – deemed ‘Parachute payments’ – follow if one or all of the new teams suffer relegation.
Given this, it’s no wonder the Championship play-off final is now billed as the richest game in football. Queens Park Rangers hit the jackpot at the end of last season, and they’ll be joined by Championship winners Leicester and second placed Burnley.
The Relegation Contenders – Promoted Clubs
What’s perceived to be a key part of Premier League survival for newly promoted clubs is how many players they bring in that have Premier League quality and experience.
Perhaps crucially, Burnley haven’t added any such experience or quality and, therefore, look extremely likely to be relegated. However, with a general market price of 8/13, I’ll look elsewhere for a betting recommendation.
Play-off winners QPR (around 2/1), on the other hand, look far better equipped for survival than the team who finished above them last season – both fiscally and in terms of personnel – so my guess is that they’ll survive.
Finally, along with ex-Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa, Nigel Pearson’s Leicester have brought in two decent players with Premier League experience in Marc Albrighton and Mathew Upson. But will that be enough to keep them up? Maybe, maybe not is the answer, but at a 13/5 price, I think it’s worth betting on Leicester playing Championship football in the 2015/2016 season.
After all, they face Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea in the early stages of 2014/2015, so if we conclude that they’re not likely to pick up many points out of those fixtures, their relegation price should be a lot shorter by then, giving you the option of laying off the bet to guarantee some profit.
Aston Villa are a Mess
They were nearly relegated from the Premier League last season, owner Randy Lerner is trying to sell the club and it’s fair to say that Aston Villa have so far failed to impress in the off-season transfer market.
As such, I’ll make them my second and final betting pick to be relegated at a current 3/1 price.
2014/2015 Premier League Winner
Manchester City are the defending Premier League champions after a dramatic end to a season, in which Liverpool effectively threw away a healthy lead with only a few games to go.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City, however, are not the betting favourites to retain their crown and win a third overall title. That honour goes to Chelsea, who are available at 19/10.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea drew several games that they should have won last season, and clearly lacked a consistent world-class goal scorer. Now that they’ve signed Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, however, I think that the missing piece of the jigsaw has been found and agree that the London club are (rightly) favourites in the title race.
12/1 priced Liverpool are also contenders to lift their first ever Premier League crown, but the sale of star striker Luis Suarez – who was the league’s top scorer in 2013/2014 – surely vastly reduces their chances. There is an underlying feeling that if they couldn’t do it last season and have since weakened in terms of quality, they won’t win the league in 2014/2015.
Unexpectedly, Arsenal thrashed Manchester City 3-0 in last weekend’s Community Shield and Wenger’s Gunners have started this season as they finished the last, with a trophy.
However, It’s been a long time since 13/2 shot Arsenal won the league and their key players have been spent a lot of time on the treatment table in recent seasons, so it’s hard to trust them.
Of course, Manchester City cannot be discounted at 5/2, but they’ve looked a bit shaky at the back in pre-season games and last weekend’s Community Shield drubbing makes them a hard bet to take. Too much depends on the availability of star defender Vincent Kompany.
City’s neighbours and the most successful Premier League team of all-time, Manchester United, are the only realistic title contenders left, and I think they’ll have a good season.
Including big-name clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, new coach Louis van Gaal has been a success wherever he’s been and offers a strong personality with a keen tactical mind.
All in all though, the Red Devils’ 5/1 price is fair and quite tempting, but I think that Chelsea will become the 2014/2015 Premier League champions and, instead, suggest a bet on Manchester United in the betting without the Chelsea and Man City market at a 6/4 price.
Premier League Top Scorer
Manchester United’s Robin van Persie – a former Premier League top scorer – is the favourite at 5/1, with City’s Sergio Aguero second at 11/2. Newcomers Alexis Sanchez – of Arsenal – and Diego Costa are certainly in with a shout at 16 and 7/1 respectively, but I prefer a proven Premier League player who’s not the favourite.
As such and guessing that, as has been the case in his first three campaigns in England, Sergio Aguero will spend a large part of the season injured. 14/1.
Wayne Rooney is my each-way pick to be the Premier League’s top scorer in 2014/2015. Playing in a variety of positions over the last few campaigns, the early signs are that Rooney has been revitalised under van Gaal, and will get to feature in better and more suitable goal scoring positions than he’s been afforded in the past.
Now, we know that Rooney’s capable of being top scorer in terms of talent, and history suggests that a 16 or 7 goal haul will get you a place in the top four, so the 1/4 each way odds mean that we stand a good chance of making a profit by the end of May 2015.
It’s Hard to Pick Winners in Week One
In future I will bring you a few bets from the Premier League on a weekly basis, but from a serious better’s perspective, the simple truth is that it isn’t easy picking bets in the first weekend of any league season, as players and coaches change and we don’t have recent, competitive form to work with, which can be crucial.
However – and while I only recommend small stakes if you opt to follow my advice – a multiple bet featuring home wins for Manchester United and Liverpool against inferior opposition, along with over 2.5 goals in Newcastle v Manchester City are my tentative week one selections. This bet potentially pays around 2/1.
Well, that’s all for this week, folks, but please contact me via @JCLaLiga on Twitter if you have any questions or feedback. And remember – only ever wager what you can afford to lose. Have a great weekend!