Could This Be Another Leicester-Like Premier League Season?
When Leicester City sensationally won the Premier League in 2016, pundits claimed it would never happen again.
Claudio Ranieri's Foxes, who were 5000/1 to win the title in pre-season, stunned the football world to win their first Premier League title by 10 points. Fast forward four years – is a similar story developing at Goodison Park?
Everton, managed by another Italian, Carlo Ancelotti, has the Toffees sitting proudly at the top of the Premier League table with a maximum 12 points from their opening four fixtures.
Ancelotti is a proven winner having won league titles in Italy, France, Germany and of course England when he led Chelsea to the title in 2010.
The Italian took over at Goodison Park in December last season and has taken the Toffees from a relegation battle to the top of the Premier League.
Before the season started, Everton were 250/1 to end their 34-year domestic title drought and land a first Premier League title. Now, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring goals for fun, Ancelotti's side have seen their odds slashed to a best price of 16/1, though some bookmakers go as short as 14/1.
?️ Latest Premier League outright odds on the back of a crazy weekend:— Gambling.com (@gambling_com) October 5, 2020
? Liverpool - 6/5
? Man City - 6/4
? Everton - 14/1
? Chelsea - 14/1
? Arsenal - 20/1
? Tottenham - 20/1
? Man Utd - 40/1
? Leicester - 50/1
? Everton's lowest ever #PremierLeague title odds
Calvert-Lewin, who is the league's joint-leading scorer with six in four games, is 11/2 to win this season's Golden Boot award.
Meanwhile, sitting second in the table is Aston Villa who are the only other team yet to drop a point.
Villa's 7-2 thrashing of champions Liverpool at Villa Park on Sunday was their third win from three.
Few could have predicted such a result for a side that narrowly avoided relegation last season against the defending champions.
As a result, Dean Smith's side have seen their title odds shorten from 1000/1 before the season started to 80/1.
Villa's remarkable win came hot on the heels of Manchester United's 6-1 loss at home to Tottenham, who still have Gareth Bale to come into their side.
Ladbrokes revealed eight of their customers placed bets on Jose Mourinho's side to win by that exact score at 160/1, while nobody was brave enough to back Villa to beat Jurgen Klopp's side 7-2 which was priced at 300/1.
A £10 double on both exact scores to land would have returned winnings of £484,600, which would come close to paying Bale's supposed salary – for a week.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: "Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be thanking Jurgen Klopp for taking the unwanted limelight off his United side and while a handful of punters backed Spurs to win 6-1, no one in the country could've predicted the scenes at Villa Park."
Villa's sensational win brought the curtain down on yet another fascinating weekend of Premier League action in which 41 total goals were scored – three short of the record 44 that were netted a fortnight ago.
Average Goals Per Game 2020/21
|Premier League Round||Average Goals Per Game||Percentage Increase|
|Gameweek 1||2.9||+8% on previous season|
|Gameweek 2||4.4||+76% on previous season|
|Gameweek 3||3.6||+20% on previous season|
|Gameweek 4||4.1||+32% on previous season|
Time will tell if both Aston Villa and Everton can maintain their consistency in a league where unpredictability has made the fixtures even more compelling than normal.
Arsenal started the season full of optimism after winning the FA Cup last season followed by the Community Shield and under Mikel Arteta the Gunners have won three of their opening four league games.
Their one loss came against Liverpool, who, in their next game, turned in their worst league performance under Jurgen Klopp at Villa Park.
Manchester City were hopeful of starting the season with a bang in order to win back the Premier League trophy they've won in two of the previous three seasons.
After beating Wolves 3-1 in their opener, they were handed a wake-up call by Leicester who beat them 5-2 at home. And the domino effect has continued with Leicester, who were the early pace-setters with three impressive wins from three.
But Brendan Rodgers' side were soundly beaten 3-0 by West Ham at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
Everton and Villa will hope to avoid similar fates when the season resumes on October 17 with neighbours and champions Liverpool travelling to Goodison Park in one of the most highly anticipated Merseyside derby in years.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa will put their 100 per cent start to the season on the line as they make the short trip to Leicester.
Managers have a fortnight to figure out a way to shore up their defences, but with players away on international duty, these adjustments might not take effect for a while. If that is the case, then we could see the trend of high-scoring games continue.
The total number of goals scored in the opening four rounds of fixtures this season is 144, which equates to 3.79 goals per game. That's almost one goal more per game than at the same stage of last season which saw an average 2.82 goals per game.
Such a dramatic increase in goals scored has an impact on betting. Over 2.5 total goals was a long-time favourite accumulator with bettors, but as we wait for the first goalless draw this season, perhaps over 3.5 goals per game should be the new normal.
Goals Per Game In Opening 4 Gameweeks
|2019/20 Season||2020/21 Season|
|0 to 5 goals - 40 Games (100%)||0 to 5 goals - 28 Games (73.7%)|
|6 to 10 goals - 0 Games (0%)||6 to 10 goals - 10 Games (26.3%)|
Over 3.5 goals would have paid out in 18 of the 38 (47.4%) games played in this season's Premier League so far.
A deeper look into how the league has evolved offensively in the last 12 months shows that already this season we have seen TEN matches with six or more total goals scored compared to none by this stage last season.
Draws have also decreased from 12 last season through the opening four rounds of fixtures to just three this season.
- Draws in gameweeks 1-4 last season – 12 (30.0%)
- Draws in gameweeks 1-4 this season – 3 (7.9%)
As spectators wait for the turnstiles to be re-opened to them, away teams seem to have taken advantage of the less-hostile environments by winning exactly half of the 38 football games played so far this season, which is a trend that has continued from the end of last season.
Until fans are allowed back into stadiums, Premier League fans should expect the unexpected including more high-scoring games and shock wins.
Everton supporters hope their club can provide the biggest shock of the season by doing what Leicester did four seasons ago and defy huge pre-season odds to win their first Premier League title.
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