The wait is finally over – the Premier League season is back.
Manchester City followed up last season’s title win by easily seeing off Chelsea 2-0 in the Community Shield on Sunday – but can they win back-to-back titles for the first time in the Premier League era?
Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City and Fulham all return to the top-flight following promotion from the Championship last season and as always it will be interesting to see if they can pull off a few surprises and avoid the immediate drop back down.
Our Premier League betting expert gives you his best bets at both ends of the table ahead of the new season.
Can anyone stop Man City?
It is easy to see why last season’s Champions are 4/6 favourites to retain the title and it will take a monumental effort from the other Premier League big boys to knock them off top spot.
The Premier League transfer window closes on Thursday ahead of the Manchester United v Leicester City season opener the following day and Guardiola’s only notable arrival has been to boost his attacking options even further with the recruitment of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City.
The old saying is ‘if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it’ and that couldn’t be more appropriate. Sunday’s Community Shield win over Chelsea highlighted that even further and City look poised to put up a strong title defence.
Of the other top sides, Liverpool have recruited well and the marquee signing of goalkeeper Alisson should help improve them at the back while options going forward have been boosted by the arrival of Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Manchester United haven’t strengthened enough so far, Spurs are yet to sign a player and Chelsea remain a work in progress under Sarri.
So, if any side is going to challenge the Cityzens then it will be Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp’s men look like being the ones to back at 4/1
Promoted sides to survive immediate relegation?
The only season where all three promoted sides have gone straight back down in Premier League history was in the 1997-98 campaign.
I don’t see that happening this term with the largely Portuguese recruitment at Wolves, while Fulham have shrewdly added to their side over the summer with the likes of Andre Schurrle, Alfie Mawson and Jean Michael Seri.
So, the only of those three promoted sides I see struggling is Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City. They have recruited a good crop of Football League talent in goalkeeper Alex Smithies from QPR and Bristol City’s Bobby Reid but it is asking a lot for those players to step up and they are rightly 4/6 favourites for the drop.
But who could join them? Huddersfield just about survived last term, but I can see them falling victim of the ‘second season syndrome’ despite spending £17.5million on Terence Kongolo from Monaco.
A lot of their other recruits have come from the Bundesliga – a league manager David Wagner knows well, but I don’t think it will be enough and they are 5/4 to go back down to the Championship.
I also fancy another team to suffer the same fate as Huddersfield and that is Brighton. Chris Hughton did a tremendous job to keep them in the top-flight last season with games to spare, but it all depends on whether their new foreign arrivals settle straight into Premier League life.
A lot rests on Alireza Jahanbaksh’s shoulders following his £18 million move from AZ Alkmaar. He topped the Dutch Eredivisie goalscoring charts last term as well as accruing 12 assists along the way.
If he doesn’t hit the ground running, it will be tough for the Seagulls, and they can be backed at 9/4 to be relegated.
Would you like to know more about Premier League statistics and trends? Check out here a complete Premier League winners list since 1992.