The Title Race

EPL

The Title Race

The Premiership season is now in full swing and heavyweights Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea have all got off to a flying start, making them the three favourites to lift the famous trophy in May. The betting odds on all three have drifted in after each won both their opening games, while the odds on rivals like Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester have grown longer after less assured starts.

The 2016/17 season promised to showcase the most open and fascinating title in recent memory. Last season’s top three – surprise champions Leicester, Arsenal and Tottenham – were set to challenge once more. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea had all slipped down the table and invested heavily in highly coveted new managers and some of the best players from across Europe, while Liverpool were tipped as a force under Jurgen Klopp and the likes of West Ham were even seen as being in with a chance.

That fabulous open race with eight teams vying for the title might still happen. But the early signs are ominous for all but City, Utd and Chelsea. Arsenal started as third favourites at 6/1 in the betting odds behind Man City and Man Utd. But a disastrous transfer window followed by a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Liverpool and a 0-0 draw with Leicester has seen them five points off the pace and drift out to 11/1 fourth favourites. Liverpool followed up that win with a miserable defeat by newly promoted Burnley and are 12/1 themselves. Tottenham have taken four points from their first two games, but they are out at 14/1 having not spent a great deal of money themselves in the summer.

Last season Leicester were 5000/1 to win the league but they pulled off a miracle and bet their big-spending rivals to the title. Nobody expected them to repeat the feat, especially after losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and having to cope with the added pressures of playing Champions League football. They started the season with odds of 33/1 and a crushing opening day defeat at the hands of crisis club Hull and that 0-0 bore draw with Arsenal has seen them drift out to 66/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet and various other bookmakers.

While it is early days it seems like those teams may find themselves vying for fourth place if Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea keep up the good work. City have been a revelation under Pep Guardiola, who has won six titles in seven seasons with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Striker Sergio Aguero is in red hot form – and a good bet at 5/2 with 888 Sport for the Golden Boot if he can stay fit – and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva seem to enjoy playing Guardiola’s brand of possession football. They started the season with betting odds of 5/2 and were favourites to win it, despite only finishing fourth last season, and that is a reflection of the esteem in which Guardiola is held among the footballing community. They have since gone into 7/4 with Betfred, Bet Victor and Paddy Power after winning both their opening games and steam rollering Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.

The betting odds on them would probably be even shorter were it not for the resurgence taking place at local rivals Man Utd. In Jose Mourinho they have another born winner with a fantastic track record, and they have broken the world record transfer fee to sign Paul Pogba for their midfield, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a force to be reckoned with up front and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be a much needed source of creativity. They have gone in to 9/4 with some bookmakers, but you can still get 3/1 at Betway.

Finally Chelsea, who have also started with a 100% record, although they have looked the least comfortable in doing so as they have twice had to rely on last ditch Diego Costa strikes to win 2-1 at the death, and many have suggested he shouldn’t have even been on the pitch to score their last winner due to his persistent fouling. They are now 11/2 and third favourites in the betting odds chart, and of the three they look the one most likely to be sucked back into the battle with Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool et al.

It should still prove to be a thrilling battle, but right now it is hard to look past City and Utd, and if pushed you would have to say City have enough about them to finish top of the pile come May.

 

 

Will Jose be the Answer?

Jose

When Alex Ferguson lead Manchester United to a period of dominance, unrivalled in the English game, the question over what would happen next when the great Scottish leader retired, always hung over Old Trafford.

As other clubs tried and tested managers from here, there and everywhere the consistency in the top job at the club meant that Ferguson could build team after team, develop and nurture world class talent. But when the inevitable, and to some fans unthinkable happened, and Ferguson stepped down the road became less clear.

Moyes lasted only 34 games, the cauldron of Old Trafford and an overly expectant crowd leading tohis early departure. Van Gaal was viewed as a saviour but a string of poor transfers, results andmedia quotes showed he was out of touch with the modern Premier League.

Ultimately, these chain of events paved the way for the Special One.

There was always something of an inevitability about the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford with many bookies backing him to make the transition. As far back as February they were cutting odds to ¼ for him to take over from Gaal. Online the situation was similar with affiliate services and gambling operators offering signup deals on a number of managerial bets. Many of the free bets at Bethut for example were placed early in the managerial race when punters had the best offers on Mourinho’s new appointment.

Jose himself has openly admitted in recent years of his desire to manage at one of the worlds most renowned clubs. As soon as the pressure started to mount on Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho ‘s second tenure at Chelsea had ended, the jigsaw started to come together.

But Jose Mourinho will not have it all his own way at Old Trafford. To assess his fortunes let us take a look at five key points that will be the deciding factors in whether The Chosen One is the latest Old Trafford hero or the latest Old Trafford nightmare…

1. A Good Start

Both David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were fighting a losing battle from the off as the United team of old withered away and the players and systems failed to gel as well as expected. United fans have grown increasingly impatient and for every United fan that welcomes Jose Mourinho, there are an equal number who aren’t at all positive about his appointment. A good start is vital to win over fans, critics and to avoid the old Trafford cauldron of hatred rising as it has so often done in the past few season!

2. Play around Pogba

Although much more lucrative options were on the table, Paul Pogba chose Manchester United and Jose Mourinho to ply his trade. The world record transfer shows how serious Jose Mourinho and United are about each other and just as he did at Chelsea with Drogba, Jose Mourinho must look to build his team around Pogba and craft a United side with his own identity.

3. Finish Above City

During most of his tenure, Sir Alex did not have to worry about the blue half of Manchester as very few seasons did they actually contend with his mighty United. But for the modern day Manchester United manager, finishing above Manchester City is a priority. Ask any Untied fan would they rather win the FA Cup or finish above City, and they will all answer with the latter! Jose Mourinho will be expected to finish above their rivals and doing so will ensure United fans are not pointing the finger from his first season

4. Get over 2-season- blue-syndrome

It is a widely known fact that Jose Mourinho tends to succeed for two seasons, start to fail and theneither walk or be pushed out of the door. United fans will want more of a legacy so Jose Mourinho will be judged not only on what he does in Season 1 but the legacy he leaves behind. United fans don’t want a two-and- done performance from Jose Mourinho! They want the next Dynasty

5. Rooney-gate

Wayne Rooney needs someone to motivate him to flourish in this stage of his career….is Jose Mourinho that man? If he can get Rooney back to his very best, which the previous two managers have failed to do, Jose Mourinho will have a player on his hands who is as good as a new signing. Whatever happened the story of Jose Mourinho and Manchester United will have ups, downs, highs and lows but I am sure we are all in for an entertaining season! One thing is for sure Jose is a winner and if I were a betting man – I wouldn’t bet against a winner!

Who will win this years EPL?

EPL Quiz

After arguably one of the most unpredictable seasons in the history of top flight football in England, can the 2016/2017 season live up to expectations? Will the big four return to dominance? Can Leicester challenger for the title? Let’s have a look at 10 key talking points for the 2016/2017 Premier League Season….

  1. The Jose factor – With Jose Mourinho at the helm, the optimism of the Manchester fans has rightly increased the fever pitch. With established new faces on the playing surface and a potential game changer in Paul Pogba, the Moyes/Van Gaal era looks to be a distant memory. Mourinho has a proven track record of producing trophies in his first season in charge and a newly motivated manager, a resurgent Old Trafford crowd and an inspired team will strike fear into fellow contendors.
  1. Leicester City – Despite retaining Jamie Vardy, against many expectations, Leicester continue to lose vital elements from the team that shocked the football world last season. Can they cope without the likes of Kante? Can they re-ignite the team morale that resulted in the greatest upset in Premier League history? With the exodus of players and the failure to attract suitable replacements, it could be a long season for Leicester….but we all wrote them off last year and look what happened!
  1. Return of Moyes – Sunderland fans had high hopes after another great escape last season under Sam Allardyce. Failure at Euro 2016 resulted in those hopes fading as Sunderland parted ways with yet another manager. The mood on Wearside improved when David Moyes was appointed, and given his success with Everton, comparable in scale and ambition to Sunderland, a motivated David Moyes, seeking to right the wrongs he endured at Old Trafford, may enable Sunderland to be a surprise package of the season!
  1. Excitement at Emirates – Every season seems to bring pressure on Wenger. A sweepstake on when the first “Wenger out” sign will appear in the stand at the Emirates would breed an inevitable winner at Xmas time when the positive start has flopped. Missing transfer targets, apathy amongst the squad and a manager at the end of his teather….this could be a season where Arsenal finally drop out of the top four!
  1. Guardiola – Controversially appointed in the middle of last season, the expectation from what Pep Guardiola can achieve when he arrives at Manchester City has been building. Arguably the strongest squad in the league, if not Europe, the one thing City have always lacked is an overall focus and drive. That lack of team work has cost them dearly in the past but Pep might just the man to turn the team of individual talent into a dominant unit!
  1. Conte and Chelsea – During Euro 2016, the passion of Conte excited Chelsea fans, some of whom had an air of doubt about the Italian’s appointment. Indeed, with only two signings with only a week to go before the start of the season, there is cause for concern. Those signings are big name, proven quality players in Kante and Batshuayi, but still there is cause for concern as the squad that failed so memorably last year is still largely in tact. But if Conte and get the likes of Eden Hazard back on form, they could rise back to the cream of the crop.
  1. Spurs Surge – The achievements of Spurs was largely overlooked last year as Leicester sold headlines but Spurs rose to their bets ever finish and their first real title challenge in the Premier League era. The team has grown and developed sine and who knows what they can look to gain this year.
  1. Return of the Reds – Since the infamous slip incident that cost Liverpool their first Premier League title, Liverpool fans have suffered a rollercoaster of emotions. The pain from Basel last year still lives long, but after a full summer of rebuilding Jurgen Klopp has been quietly building a team that are difficult to beat and can score against any side. No team will look forward to visiting Anfield this season and a Champions League spot is well within reach!
  1. Down at the Riverside – Casual football fan have a soft spot in their hearts for Middlesbrough, fondly remembering the days of Juninho, Ravenelli and Emerson. But the team crashed and burned and have struggled to reach the summit of English football in recent years, finally putting everything together last year Re-enforcing his Championship winning squad with experience from abroad gives Middlesbrough a real chance at comfortable survival, and there should be some memorable nights at the Riverside.
  1. Who will be the surprise package? – It will take some doing to outdo the achievements of Leicester last season but who will shock the nation this year. Can Sunderland under David Moyes get back into the top 10? Will West Ham crown their move to a new home with a storming run? With Southampton loosing players and West Brom failing to improve, will there be a shock “Newcastle-style” relegation?

Whatever happens, strap in because we are on for another rollercoaster ride!

And for what it is worth here are our football tips today, The 2016/2017 season –

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Arsenal
  4. Chelsea
  5. Spurs
  6. Liverpool
  7. West Ham
  8. Everton
  9. Leicester
  10. Sunderland
  11. Southampton
  12. Stoke
  13. Swansea
  14. Crystal Palace
  15. Middlesborough
  16. Watford
  17. Hull City
  18. Bournemouth
  19. Burnley
  20. West Brom