We’ve barely managed to rip the World Cup wallchart off the wall and we’re talking about the new football season. It’s just over four weeks until the Premier League begins again, which is lucky because the wallchart blue-tac has ripped a fair bit of paint off the office wall. A cheeky Premier League pull-out from Match magazine (or whatever the cool kids read these days) will sort that right out.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are 15/8 favourites after securing the signatures of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. The Special One spent the majority of last season moaning about his lack of strikers and, despite having an absolute stinker in Brazil, Diego Costa can fill that void after baggging 27 goals in 35 la Liga appearances for Atletico Madrid last year. Cesc Fabregas’ arrival is presumably to bring a bit more creativity to an already super-creative midfield rather than solely to piss off Arsene Wenger, and the former Arsenal man will replace Frank Lampard who is off to collect his pension.
Despite boosting his squad punters aren’t convinced by Chelsea, and just 11 per cent of the ante-post cash is on Mourinho’s side.
Van the man
Louis Van Gaal has already worked wonders, managing to encourage almost a third of Paddy Power punters to back Manchester United (11/2) for Premier League glory. United, free from the shackles of David Moyes, won’t have the distraction of the Champions League this season and have already recruited left-back Luke Shaw and midfielder Anders Herrera.
24 per cent of punters have lumped on Arsenal (13/2) as the Gunners aim for their first Premier League title in 11 years. The arrival of Chile’s Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona is a healthy boost to Arsene Wenger’s squad, and punters are banking on Arsenal to kick on from last year’s FA Cup success.
There isn’t much to separate the favourites Chelsea (15 per cent) and 10/1 shots Liverpool (16 per cent) in the betting. The Merseyside club were a slip away from winning the title last year, but have lost, arguably, one of the three best players in the world as Luis Suarez heads to Barca for £80 million. Brendan Rodgers has already signed Southampton duo Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana and with a huge wad of cash coming his way, expect the Liverpool gaffer to dip back in to fill that Suarez-size void.
Most surprising of all is that just 11 per cent of the cash is on Manchester City. The reigning champs are 11/5 to retain their title and have spent £44 million on midfielders Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala this summer. If they can keep hold of their driving force Yaya Toure after Cake-gate, and Sergio Aguero manages to stay fit, those 11 per cent of punters might look really clever come next May.
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While the betting in the Premier League is focused on the top five, in the Championship punters couldn’t have more differing opinions…
- Brave enough to navigate the Championship minefield? Take a look at some juicy prices: Desktop | Mobile
Newly relegated Fulham (9/1) just edge the majority of the book, with 12 per cent of cash on the Cottagers to bounce straight back up. They’re closely followed by a wave of support for both the favourites Cardiff (7/1) and last year’s play-off final losers Derby County, who are 15/2.
Watford (14/1) had plenty of ante-post support last year but failed to impress finishing 13th despite a little cash injection from owners, the Pozzo family. With Gianfranco Zola getting the boot at Christmas, there has been more cash in for the hornets to leap back up to the Premier League this time around. Norwich (9/1) forked out a fair whack of money last summer but managed to pick up just eight wins, although that hasn’t put people off backing them to top the Championship this year and come straight back up. Delia will be delighted.
Elsewhere Wolves (16/1), Leeds (25/1), Sheffield Wednesday (40/1), Nottingham Forest (16/1) and Middlesbrough (18/1) have all seen some cash, as well as Wigan (8/1) who made a play-off appearance last season. There’s been bits of money for plenty of other sides in the Championship as well, and there isn’t one side who hasn’t been backed, through plain loyalty or punting nous.
Either way, it reflects two things. Yes, the Championship is a minefield and picking the winner is harder than trying to decide which member of One Direction you’d kick in the plums first. However, it also means that there’s plenty of value to be had, and makes punting the Championship far more intriguing than backing PSG at 1/6 in France or Bayern Munich at 1/7 in the Bundesliga.
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