Premier League 2019/20 preview: Best bets for outright markets
We assess the best picks for the 2019/20 Premier League title, relegation and more ahead of Friday night's big kick-off.
CHAMPIONS: Manchester City (4/9 at time of writing)
The odds are so short that this isn’t an attractive bet, but it’s not worth backing anybody else either.
Manchester City followed up smashing the Premier League points record in 2017/18 by registering the second-highest ever points tally last term, holding off a once-in-a-generation effort from Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola’s side only won the title by one point, but the xG and shot data suggests an even greater level of dominance. And that was without Kevin de Bruyne, their best player, for most of the season.
Only freakish bad luck or complacency can deny them a third consecutive title.
TOP-FOUR FINISH: Arsenal (11/8 at time of writing)
Liverpool and Tottenham should take second and third place, leaving a selection of such flawed teams that you can’t back any of them for fourth with confidence.
Of those, Arsenal’s transfer business probably gives them the edge. Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe massively improve the Gunners, who should be an entertaining watch given their failure to strengthen at the back.
I wouldn’t put you off a small bet on Leicester (33/1 at time of writing), either. More on them below.
TOP-SIX FINISH: Leicester (7/2 at time of writing)
This isn’t as original a tip as at the start of the summer, but there is still less of a difference in quality between Leicester and the teams above them than the odds suggest.
Manchester United and Chelsea would happily swap their midfields for a trio of Wilfred Ndidi, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison, while Ayoze Perez, Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes form a tasty front three.
The Foxes picked up 17 points from their last nine games of last season under Brendan Rodgers, a points-per-game ratio that would have seen them finish fourth across the whole season.
TOP-10 FINISH: Southampton (5/2 at time of writing)
The margins around the middle of the Premier League table are so small that there is money to be made in this market.
Just eight points separated seventh-placed Wolves and 12th-placed Crystal Palace last season, while West Ham (10th) only accrued seven more points than Newcastle (13th).
Southampton should be in that mix this season. Their points-per-game ratio under Ralph Hasenhuttl would have seen them finish 11th across the whole of last season, and they have done well in the transfer market.
BOTTOM-HALF FINISH: Wolves (7/4 at time of writing)
With Southampton, Watford, Bournemouth and others attempting to break into the top 10, some teams are going to be left disappointed.
With those margins so tight, Wolves look a decent bet to miss out.
Nuno Santo’s side are bound to be affected by playing in the Europa League, particularly considering the small size of their squad. Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez have already suffered injury scares this summer, which is hardly promising ahead of a busy workload.
TO GO DOWN: Crystal Palace (9/2 at time of writing)
Crystal Palace are one of few established Premier League clubs only concerned about what’s going on over their shoulders.
Manager Roy Hodgson has voiced his frustration at a transfer window in which their only signing has been the returning Jordan Ayew. Though Hodgson did well to inspire some big results from his side at the end of last season, he knows that another summer of regression makes that job harder.
Last season’s star turn Aaron Wan-Bissaka has not been replaced, while the Wilfried Zaha transfer saga has dominated their summer. Even if Zaha does stay, it may take him some time to settle back into the side.
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