Now the dust has settled on the World Cup, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2018/19 Premier League season. It may seem early to think about placing bets, as there’s still plenty of room for changes. While high profile managerial switches look unlikely, there’s no doubt millions of pounds will be spent on transfers, as clubs look to improve on last season.
But this also means there’s a chance to get better value on your bets now too. Uncertainty can lead to more appealing prices, and they will shrink once the action gets underway. However, it’s still very hard to look past Manchester City as this season’s Premier League champions. The best odds you can get are 8/11 with Betway, but that’s not a price that will make your fortune.
The only negative against Pep’s boys is they have had 16 players in Russia, which is more than any other team, so they may be understrength in the early weeks of the campaign. Of course, the same is true of the other top teams too, and it was actually Tottenham who had the most players involved in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Here's five other bets you should consider before the Premier League returns:
If you want to look away from City for a title punt, then Liverpool appear to be the best bet. They are available at 5/1 with Karamba, and look set to build upon their success last season. Jürgen Klopp’s side had the third best results on expected goals in 2017/18, but won’t face as much disruption as Spurs, who were second.
The Reds only had Jordan Henderson playing an active role in the semi-finals of the World Cup, and have brought in Fabinho and Naby Keita who can more than fill in. With Alisson recently joining too, Liverpool look like being the best of the rest behind City.
At the wrong end of the table, Cardiff City are the bookies favourites to go down, and are priced at 4/5 to do so by William Hill. Based on the underlying numbers from last season, Huddersfield (at 5/4 with 888sport) and Fulham (13/8 with Genting Bet) are deservedly the next most likely to be relegated according to the prices.
For value, we need to look to the ‘B’s; Bournemouth and Burnley. The Cherries are available at 5/1 with Sportnation to go down, and they had the third worst expected goals record of the sides who stayed up last season. Eddie Howe’s side have also (at the time of writing) only bought in one Championship player, so could face a tough season.
Burnley may seem an unusual choice, at 4/1 with Bet365, as they finished seventh last season. However, they massively overachieved against their expected goals, so should regress a bit, and the added distraction of Europa League football may prove too much. Sean Dyche has shown little inclination to rotate his team in the past, and (as yet) they haven’t brought in any new blood either.
It’s no surprise to see Harry Kane lead the way from Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot betting, as the pair battled it out until the final day last season. For better value, I think Gabriel Jesus looks a great bet at 14/1 with Unibet. A lot will depend on how much he plays, and he has had injury problems, but he averaged the highest non-penalty expected goals rate per 90 minutes played in the division last season. With Aguero now in his 30s, Jesus could play more and will get excellent goal scoring chances.
It’s never too early to bet on the opening weekend of the season either, and one price stands out a mile: Leicester are available at 7/1 with BetVictor to win at Old Trafford. The Foxes were only four points worse than United on expected goal results last season, plus some of Mourinho’s key players like Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba have only just completed their World Cup commitments.
Strange things can happen in the first match-week of a campaign too; Burnley won at Chelsea last season, and Leicester were seven minutes from winning at the Emirates. The 2015/16 Champions may struggle to replace Riyad Mahrez, but that price is too tempting to ignore for a little flutter.
Another good option that football betting fans shoulds note is Cardiff to win at Bournemouth, which is 27/10 at Ladbrokes. Wolves and Fulham were the only teams to win more Championship games on the road than the Bluebirds did last season, and three of the four teams who lost more home games than Bournemouth got relegated. Huddersfield caught Crystal Palace cold on the opening weekend last season, and Cardiff could easily do the same at the Vitality Stadium.