The race for the Premier League title and the battle for the drop are about to begin their nine month roller coaster ride which will inevitably be full of twists and turns, a ton of Sky Sports hyperbole and Arsene Wenger moaning about everyone else’s finances.
Everybody in the office has an opinion of who will be crowned champs this year, and which sides will be plying their trade in the Championship next term. However Mary in Accounts hardly has a stellar tipping record and the last time we took advice from the Product guys we ended trying to race a man dressed as the Pope carrying a badger down Grafton Street. Tripping.
Therefore this year it made more sense to follow punters and were they were putting their cash. So here’s how Paddy Power’s outright book looks like as we approach kick-off in the 2014/15 season.
[A big thank you to Leo Kellenberger in Paddy Power for her design wizardry]
Will Louis be crowned King?
The sense of optimism is growing around Old Trafford, and consequently Manchester United (5/1) are the most popular team in the book with a third of punters cash riding on Louis Van Gaal’s side. The signings of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw for a combined £56m followed by a successful pre-season tour of the US where United beat Real Madrid 3-1 and Liverpool 3-1 has got fans and punters giddy with excitement. There is certainly room to improve on last season, but it wouldn’t take much to top Man United’s worst campaign in more than two decades. Could they bounce back from seventh and go on to win the title? Rose-tinted glasses or not, that’s who Paddy Power punters fancy.
Arsenal (6/1) rank next with almost a quarter of the cash resting on the fragile shoulders of Arsene Wenger. The Gunners are high on life after ending their trophy drought with an FA Cup Final win over Hull and have splashed some serious cash this summer with the capture of Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez who excelled at the World Cup for Chile. Maybe this is the season Wenger can end Arsenal’s ten-year wait for a title. Or they could play some scintillating football before coming undone tactically by the bigger sides and then collapse in a desperate heap of delicate play-makers and tackle-dodging flair players. Oh for a tough-tackling defensive midfielder.
19/10 favorites Chelsea (16 per cent) and 12/1 shots Liverpool (15 per cent) are hard to separate in punters eyes but both have been heavily involved in the transfer window so far. Jose Mourinho had the bones of a title-winning squad last season and has added to it with Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. Meanwhile on Merseyside, Liverpool were just one less slip away from ending their title-drought and although Luis Suarez has bailed to Spain, Brendan Rodgers has bought most of Southampton amongst others. Most interestingly Man City have had very little support considering they are the reigning Champions, with just nine per cent of cash on the citizens.
Heaven help Saints
As the transfer window opened and players flooded out of St Mary’s the cash came piling in for Southampton to be relegated this year. A monster 41 per cent of the cash is on the Saints (4/1) who are now without Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers. The good news is they have £92.5m to spend and Ralph Krueger has put his foot down saying that want-away duo Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez aren’t going anywhere. The exodus is over, but according to the cash that won’t save the Saints.
Surprisingly Burnley (4/7) are the only promoted team to feature in the five clubs most-backed to be relegated. Along with Southampton, West Brom (11/4) and Newcastle (8/1) are also ahead of the Clarets who will be relying on striker Danny Ings to keep them afloat. West Brom survived by just three points last season and are now under the guidance of the unproven Alan Irvine. They’ve hardly made waves in the transfer window and are fully expected to be fighting for survival come May.
Similarly Newcastle are getting plenty of support to go down, although that could purely be lots of Sunderland fans having a loyal punt. Alan Pardew is one head-push away from a compete breakdown and with Mike Ashley in charge anything could happen at St James’ Park.
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