After 10 games of the season, we reassess the best picks for the 2019/20 Premier League title, relegation and more.
CHAMPIONS: Manchester City
I tipped Man City at 4/9 in August, so getting them at odds-against just 10 games into the season is too good to ignore.
Pep Guardiola’s side have achieved all of their seven victories by at least two goals, including 4-0, 5-0 and 8-0 victories.
By contrast, five of Liverpool’s nine victories have come by one goal, while they have scored nine fewer times than City. Their xPts tally of 20.23 is 7.77 fewer than the 28 points that they have amassed – by far the biggest overperformance in the Premier League.
The meeting between the two at Anfield on the second weekend of November is crucial, but City remain the better side and the better bet to win the title.
TOP-FOUR FINISH: Chelsea
This market is extremely uninspiring, with so few of the favourites able to be backed with any confidence that I am tempted just to punt on a massive outsider.
Ultimately, though, a couple of the top clubs will accidentally stumble into third and fourth and secure Champions League qualification.
I referenced Leicester’s price of 33/1 at the beginning of the season, and that looks a good bet, but the Foxes are too short now.
Arsenal looked in decent nick in pre-season but things are unravelling rapidly at the Emirates. Tottenham can’t be backed while two of their three senior centre-backs are unwanted and unsettled, either.
Anthony Martial’s return has boosted Manchester United, who will also benefit from Paul Pogba’s reintroduction to the team. But they have a lot of catching up to do.
Chelsea’s odds reflect that they are the most reliable of the runners. Odds of 8/15 for a team that have conceded more than two goals per away game this season are not attractive, but things have come together for the Blues at the other end.
TOP-HALF FINISH: Everton
One of two things are soon going to happen at Everton: either Marco Silva will be replaced by a manager who can guide a top-10 squad back into the top 10, or Silva himself will lead the recovery.
Farhad Moshiri will not tolerate watching the Toffees knock about in the bottom half of the Premier League for much longer, and that their xPts tally is the fifth-best in the division suggests that you should take these odds while they are available.
Burnley – who rank sixth in the xPts metric – deserve far more credit for their start to the season.
Of the Clarets’ five home league games, they have beaten Southampton, Norwich and Everton to nil, only losing to Liverpool and Chelsea.
In five away games, they have avoided defeat at Wolves, Brighton and Aston Villa, losing 2-1 at Arsenal and Leicester.
They will be in the mix.
TO GO DOWN: Newcastle
Newcastle and Watford have stunk the place out so far, but the former are the better bet to be relegated.
Steve Bruce’s side have failed to score more than once in any of their 10 league games. They have drawn a blank in four, and lost five.
While winless Watford have achieved similar, or worse, numbers, they can at least point to performances being a little better than results suggest.
The Hornets have scored five goals but posted an xG figure of 12.45, and taken five points despite having registered an xPts tally of 13.3. Both of those discrepancies are the biggest in the league.
Steve Bruce’s side, meanwhile, have actually overperformed in both metrics. They ‘should’ have scored fewer goals and earned fewer points, which is ominous.
Ultimately, though, it looks a long way back for both of these teams.
PFA PLAYER OF THE SEASON: Kevin De Bruyne
Liverpool players have won this award in each of the last two seasons, so the destination of the title shouldn’t affect De Bruyne’s chances here.
Even without his immense stats, watching the Belgian play is enough to know that he is best in the country.
He is not only a powerful dribbler, but is arguably the greatest Premier League crosser since David Beckham.
That is borne out by the fact that he has registered nine assists in eight Premier League starts. It would now be a surprise if he did not break Thierry Henry’s 17-year long record of 20 in a season.
The two matches that De Bruyne has missed? The two that City have lost. His influence is huge and will surely see him land the award that he should have won two years ago.
TOP GOALSCORER: Raheem Sterling
Aguero’s absence from City’s starting XI against Southampton last week is a huge alarm bell. If he is no longer a guaranteed starter in Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad, he can’t be backed for the Golden Boot.
Fortunately, he has a team-mate who scores at a similar rate and will start almost every game that he is available for.
Sterling is currently fourth to Jamie Vardy, Aguero and Tammy Abraham in the top-goalscorer standings, but is second to the Argentine for xG and third for shots per game.
He has 17 goals in 18 appearances for club and country this term, so that he has failed to net in four of his last five Premier League games is nothing more than an anomaly.
As the sixth-favourite for the Golden Boot, he is clearly a value bet.
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