Outright market changes after Premier League gameweek 4
In his weekly column, Alan Alger reveals what impact a remarkable weekend of results had on the Premier League outright markets, including the race for the title and top four.
It stands to reason that after one of the strangest ever Premier League weekends, we also saw an almost unprecedented reaction in the long-term outright markets.
In over two decades in the betting industry, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a raft of alterations, price changes and corrections to the relative merits of each team.
We should start with the last of the 10 matches played in the top flight across the two days.
Some of the outcomes at Villa Park, including a correct score of Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool, would have been ‘skinners’ in our book.
A ‘skinner’ is bookmaker slang for a selection on which you have zero liabilities. Effectively all of the money in the correct score market for this match became profit, as there are no winning bets to pay out.
Villa fans have every right to be optimistic at the moment, with some getting a little carried away in drawing parallels with Leicester City’s famous title triumph in 2016.
The similarities are clear. Villa are in their second season after promotion, having narrowly stayed up last time around. Rather more tenuously, they are a Midlands club with Craig Shakespeare on the coaching staff.
It’s clearly far too early to consider Dean Smith’s side for a title bid, and the bookmakers prefer to leave coincidences and fate-type conclusions to the punters, but there has been one astonishing development to how the prices have been updated this week.
There were some simplistic betting headlines around Leicester lifting the title in May 2016. The tabloids like reporting large numbers and the much-quoted odds of 5000/1 did the job.
Not only that, but a number of spokesmen for the bookies kept it simple by quoting those odds and genuine liabilities into the millions.
Cut from 1000/1 pre-season to 750/1 in last week’s update, we now see Villa's odds tumbling to just 100/1.
The four-figure quotes at the start of the season were not the problem, though. It was the slow reaction to Leicester’s form in the autumn of 2015 that actually cost the bookies, including us at Betway, a very large sum.
Keeping Leicester at generous three-figure prices throughout that period – and nearly until people were putting up their Christmas trees – was an error nobody wants to repeat. The £10-£20 wagers throughout October and November cost us far, far more than the speculative £1 and £2 bets in pre-season.
Keen to not repeat that mistake, the compilers are taking next to no chances with Dean Smith’s side.
Cut from 1000/1 pre-season to 750/1 in last week’s update, we now see their odds tumbling to just 100/1, after a perfect record of three wins from three in which, statistically, they have defended better than any other team in the league.
They are 25/1 from 50/1 for a top-four finish and just 12/1 from 40/1 to finish in the top six. Those Villa fans with nerves still on edge from last season’s final day survival might just be grateful for a relegation market quote of 10/1 from a pre-season 15/8 – a change of over 25 per cent in terms of chance.
That title market change stole the thunder from Carlo Ancelotti’s table-toppers Everton, who are now 16/1 to win the Premier League. They only have to look over their shoulders at Tottenham (18/1), Arsenal (25/1) and a hapless Manchester United (50/1) to see how seriously they are now being treated by odds compilers.
Some people have suggested that they are being taken a little too seriously, but it’s important to note that a long-held reservation regarding the Toffees’ ability to win as odds-on favourites at home was swept aside when they beat Brighton on Saturday.
Their price in the upcoming Merseyside derby will be shorter than it’s been for a few years.
Neighbours Liverpool could not hold onto the top spot in the market that they muscled in on last week, as that embarrassing defeat led our compilers to match them at 6/4 joint-favourites with Manchester City.
The fact that City did not win and still reclaimed a share of top spot shows how bizarrely the market is behaving. It’s also the first time in a very long while that we don’t have a clear odds-on favourite to lift the title.
The market’s emphasis on performances rather than results is illustrated in Arsenal’s fall to sixth in the title betting, despite having thought that the weekend results couldn’t have gone any better. The odds show that we been less forgiving about a poor first hour against Sheffield United.
The Blades spent the middle of last season being quoted in markets at the positive end of the table after sweeping aside relegation fears, but they look set to struggle this time around. They show up at 2/1 to slide back into the Championship.
At least they had one season of fun, which is something that West Bromwich Albion (1/2) and Fulham (2/7) are short prices to miss out on.
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