There isn’t a set of football matches that spark as much of an overreaction in betting markets as the first batch of games of the Premier League season.

Only 16 of the 20 Premier League teams played on the first weekend, but we’ve already seen players written off, managers questioned and squads consigned to relegation, despite each club having well over 3000 minutes of playing time to put things right – or wrong.

One of the biggest market changes took place after the first game of the campaign at Craven Cottage, where Arsenal eased past Fulham. It was the first time since January 2017 that Arsenal had managed a league away win by scoring more than two goals and keeping a clean sheet.

It was probably the nature of that dominant win that saw the title price for the Gunners clipped to 22/1 from a pre-season price of 33/1. Mikel Arteta’s more realistic aim of qualifying for the Champions League also received a boost, with the ‘Top 4 Finish’ market now showing Arsenal at 7/4 from 11/4.

That’s a big swing, and the red side of North London will be even more pleased to know that their shortened price has been compensated for by a lengthening of the price for their local rivals. Tottenham’s lacklustre defeat to Everton shifted their ‘Top 4 Finish’ price from 3/1 to a huge 5/1.


With a 40-game winless run away to Big Six opposition finally behind them, the market has taken note of Everton. The Toffees’ price for a ‘Top 6 Finish’ has halved from 5/1 to 5/2.

The game at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Southampton may not have struck most observers as the most entertaining of the weekend, but it pitched together two teams at either end of the ‘dark-horse’ spectrum.

The Saints appeared to be many people’s idea of a disruptive force towards the top of the table now that they have settled under boss Ralph Hasenhüttl. The opposite could be said of hosts Crystal Palace, who were appearing in many lists as outside picks for relegation.

A 1-0 home win shored up Palace’s relegation price, though – out to 3/1 from 2/1. In contrast, Southampton suffered a tug of their tails as they were shortened to 8/1 from a high of 10/1 to face the drop.

Another side to be cut in the relegation market were West Ham, who are now 9/4 from 5/1. The Hammers have a brutal set of fixtures coming up in the remainder of this month and October, before opening November with a London derby at home to Fulham that already looks crucial. 

The stats that matter:

- Since 2015, an average of just 3.6 teams per season have managed to win both of their opening two games, suggesting that opinions formed after an opening-weekend result are usually premature.

- The opening match of a Premier League season does matter for potential champions. All of the five most recent winners of the division have secured three points on the opening day, with four of them winning their second match, too.

- In the last five seasons, the 20 places eventually filled by the top four sides have been occupied by 17 teams who avoided defeat on the opening day of the campaign, with 15 of them registering a victory. One of the exceptions was beaten by another team who subsequently finished in the top four (Chelsea losing to Manchester United in the 2019/20 season). The other two, Arsenal and Tottenham, both occurred during the crazy 2015/16 campaign.

- Losing the opening two games of the season has only seen four teams relegated in the last five Premier League seasons. Amazingly, West Bromwich Albion won both of theirs in the 2017/18 campaign, but finished rock bottom.

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