As the dust settles on the sixth round of Premier League fixtures, the bookmakers are left licking their wounds as all of the top seven teams claimed wins that would have seriously dented the layers’ profits.
More worryingly for the odds-makers was a return to form for all of the big six.
Those traditional teams that populate punters accumulators’ week in, week out provided a timely boost to backers who may have already fallen foul of Spurs Wembley woes and Arsenal’s early-season jitters.
Both the north London clubs, in fact, carved out victories, with Arsene Wenger’s side completing a six-timer that paid around 11/1 on Monday night, thanks to their defeat of West Bromwich Albion.
Will the top clubs continue to let the good times roll? The signs are certainly encouraging, especially with all of their star strikers able at will, it seems, to turn on the style.
Strikers that are Almost Sure Bets
Manchester City went top of the table on goal difference thanks to another venomous display of attacking football. This time, Crystal Palace were their victims; the Eagles downed mercilessly as their search for a first goal – let alone first point or first win – of the season goes on.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 25, 2017
City became the first team to score five or more goals in three consecutive top-flight matches since Blackburn in 1958/59 campaign.
Defences are being mesmerised by the hypnotic play of Pep Guardiola’s team, with Sergio Aguero arguably playing the best football of his City career.
The former Barcelona boss wanted more from the Argentine striker, and boy has he got it. But six goals in five league starts hasn’t been enough to persuade the bookmakers to promote him to favouritism to win the Golden Boot.
The Belgian brushed aside terrace chant controversy, not to mention the Southampton backline, to net his sixth league goal at St Mary’s to keep Manchester United on the same points as City at the summit of the standings.
Kane, on the other hand, as top scorer in the top division in each of the last two seasons, has shrugged off his August malaise to strike four times in September.
It seems incredible we’re not talking more about Alvaro Morata, the man who is averaging 1.19 goals per 90 minutes (the best amongst elite strikers) and whose hat-trick at Stoke kept Chelsea on the coattails of the Manchester clubs.
Antonio Conte has been impressed by @AlvaroMorata‘s start to life as a Chelsea player…
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 25, 2017
The former Real Madrid forward is 9/2 to end up as the Premier League’s most prolific marksman, while Alex Lacazette joined the party on Monday night, netting a brace against the Baggies and forcing the traders to cut the French international to 16/1 to outscore his peers this term.
City Purring but Bigger Tests to Come
City are the 10/11 favourites for the Premier League, their odds shortening week by week as the goals continue to flow.
This is thanks to the form of Raheem Sterling (five goals in his last four league games – as many as he’d scored in his previous 31) and Leroy Sane (five goals from just six shots on target this season in all competitions) adding to the ruthlessness of City’s frontline.
And that’s not to mention Fabian Delph getting in on the act by finishing off a move that saw all ten City outfield players touch the ball before he fired into the Palace net.
Still, the bookmakers have seen it all before and most will be reserving judgement until a bigger hurdle is overcome. That surely is this weekend away at Chelsea. A stumble at Stamford Bridge for the Sky Blues and all bets are suddenly off.
In fact, Chelsea’s resurgence is still a little under the radar. A 4-0 win at Stoke – where both Arsenal and Manchester United dropped points this term – should not be ignored.
The champions are unbeaten since the opening weekend of the campaign and, at 11/2, cannot be discounted to retain the title.
Manchester United split City and Chelsea in the betting at 11/4, after a 1-0 win at Southampton. Jose Mourinho suggested it was his side’s most difficult test of the season so far – hardly a ringing endorsement of his team given the Saints have won only twice – but Lukaku’s effort did equal Louis Saha’s record haul of six goals from his first half a dozen United appearances in the Premier League.
Numbers that continue to emphasise the narrative that this year, so far at least, is all about the strikers.