It’s been a long, hot summer so far but we’re just days away from getting back to normality with a brand-new Premier League season.
We’ve not been totally starved of football since waving goodbye to the 2016/17 campaign in May.
Germany cemented their place at the top of world football by bagging the Confederations Cup while the likes of Rangers kicked off their season by getting dumped out of Europa League qualifying. Ouch.
But looking ahead to the best competition in the world, Marathonbet has a load of brilliant Premier League ante-post markets for punters to get their teeth stuck into. Which teams do you reckon present decent value in the run up to the 2017/18 Premier League season?
Here’s our take.
PREMIER LEAGUE WINNERS
Who wins the coveted league crown depends a lot on transfer activity between now and the end of the window on August 31.
Antonio Conte’s defending champions Chelsea have so far signed Antonio Rudiger from Roma for £34million and Willy Caballero from Manchester City on a free – but they’ve also lost a wealth of experience in the likes of John Terry and Asmir Begovic. Conte is a man who has to be respected. In just his first season in the Premier League he almost won the double and earned massive praise for changing his system to a 3-4-3 after being trashed by Arsenal at the Emirates early in September last year. It’s a move that proves he has the tactical prowess and bravery to succeed in England. He has the trust of the dressing room and backing of the fans, too. With one big success already behind him, Conte has all the tools needed to win back-to-back Premier League titles.
League rivals Man City meanwhile have splashed the cash on Bernardo Silva from Monaco for £43million and waved goodbye to Zabaleta, Clichy, Navas and Sagna amongst others. Pep Guardiola didn’t live up to expectations in his first season as City boss – which proves how good a job Conte did – and looks intent to right the wrongs of last season by getting rid of the deadwood. City tried playing like Guardiola teams of old, Barcelona and Bayern, but they just didn’t have the quality to pull it off. How well they do this time around depends on the faces they bring in but you have to think Chelsea have the momentum as we stand.
Last season’s runners-up, Spurs, might struggle playing at Wembley Stadium for the season whilst their new home is built. They were so strong at White Hart Lane last term, going undefeated there all campaign, and it’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that could see them lose traction this time around. Their record at Wembley isn’t great. In fact since 2007 they’ve lost six, won two and drawn one across a host of matches in the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.
Elsewhere, Manchester United have signed Lukaku for £75million, with Rooney heading for the exit, and Arsenal bagged Lacazette for £45milion. Both teams, who enjoyed great success in the 1990s and early 2000s as bitter rivals, have seemingly moved aside now for City and Chelsea to take the spotlight. As for Liverpool, it’s just too hard to make a case for them. They need to massively improve on their fourth-placed finish last season but they might find that difficult with Champions League football on their hands.
MANCHESTER CITY TO WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE: 7/4
CHELSEA TO WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE: 10/3
MANCHESTER UNITED TO WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE: 7/2
Leicester City won the Premier League a few years back despite being a massive 5,000/1 to do the deed. That historic victory is probably why this year’s Premier League newcomers Huddersfield are ‘just’ 2000/1 to win it this time around. Really, the Championship Playoff winners should be bracing themselves for a brief stint in the topflight despite a host of signings. They’ve welcomed Tom Ince from Derby in a £10million transfer on top of Aaron Mooy for £8million from Manchester City – plus secured the likes of Steve Mounie from Montpellier, Laurent Depoitre from Porto and Scott Malone from Fulham. But they’re not the calibre of names you’d expect to keep a team in the Premier League which is why Huddersfield are Marathonbet’s favourites for the drop.
Joining them could be the likes of Swansea City. They finished seven points off relegation last season after a last-gasp spurt of form that saw them win four of their last five games and draw the fifth. It was the Great Escape in its truest form, but how they survive this term depends on whether they can find the same kind of consistency from the off.
There are also still question marks over whether their star man Gylfi Sigurdsson will be prised away in a big-money transfer to Everton. The Toffees have made a number of bids for the Iceland man, the latest being a £40million punt which was rejected outright by the Swans. But if Swansea can hold their nerve in the face of all that money and keep hold of Gylfi, they might just secure Premier League status for another season. If he goes, it could spell trouble.
The final relegation spot could be a scrap between the likes of Burnley and Watford, with preference for the former. Burnley, who were a force to be reckoned with at home last season, were a totally different team on the road. They won just once on their travels – a terrible record which if not for their good home form would have seen them playing the likes of Burton Albion and Barnsley instead of Arsenal and Manchester United from thismonth. It’s a clear psychological barrier which can’t be fathomed on the training pitch and a problem which could see them in trouble this coming campaign.
HUDDERSFIELD TO BE RELEGATED: 4/7
SWANSEA TO BE RELEGATED: 2/1
BURNLEY TO BE RELEGATED: 119/100
Most Premier League pundits reckon Brighton will face the drop next season but we think otherwise of the Seagulls.
It was huge and long-awaited achievement for Brighton to finally get promoted to the topflight after years of coming close in the Championship. Who can forget the 2015/2016 season when they were pipped by Middlesbrough on goal difference?
When most sides would have crumbled mentally heading into a new season, Chris Hughton did an immense job picking up his side and dusting themselves off to go again to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. One concern is that Brighton really should have won the league – they needed to win just one of their last remaining three league games – but they failed and saw Newcastle lift the trophy instead.
Granted, they were out on the town celebrating their promotion (for probably a bit too long) but there’s no doubt Hughton won’t have been entirely happy with the way they conceded the title to Rafa Benitez’s men. It was a momentary loss of the winning mentality that saw them win promotion.
As for this coming season, they have everything needed to survive in the Premier League. A fantastic multimillion-pound training facility by the seaside, a relatively new 30,000-seater stadium that’s packed out every week and a great mindset and focus from the manager to the boardroom should be enough to keep them safe. Keep your eyes peeled on star man Antony Knockaert – Brighton’s player of the season last term and a man with a point to prove back in the Premier League.
BRIGHTON TO AVOID RELEGATION: 13/10