With six teams at 10/1 or shorter this is quite possibly the most open Premier League season ever, and that doesn’t even include the defending champions.
Of those we’d dismiss Liverpool as being too short having been 28/1 a year ago. Jurgen Klopp gave them a lot more swagger as last season went on and the combination of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho looks a dangerous one, particularly with the addition of Sadio Mane. However, neither of those players is Luis Suarez and Firmino has never finished higher than 8th in six seasons in the Bundesliga or Premier League. Joel Matip should strengthen a previously vulnerable Reds backline but work still needs to be done addressing problems at left-back while they lack strength in depth in midfield and their top scorer in the league last season managed just 10 goals. If they can keep Daniel Sturridge fit they could be contenders, but that is a big if, and we prefer the look of other teams elsewhere.
Spurs have finished above Liverpool in six of the past seven seasons and are available at the same price. However, that also looks a bit on the short side given that while they came very close last term that owed a lot to the underperformance of Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester sides – all four of whom we expect to perform much better this time around. Spurs are a well-balanced side but they lack the quality of those teams and 10/1 is again too short.
Much like Liverpool there are plenty of questions about Chelsea. The main one of course is how exactly Eden Hazard will perform. With Hazard and Willian at their best they are capable of giving Conte a title at his first attempt but while the Belgian has been closer to his old self in pre-season the doubts over their defence mean we prefer Arsenal at the same price.
The record of runners-up going on to win the title the following year is a positive omen for Arsenal (11 of the last 24) as they head into this season and with the likes of Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere and new signing Xhaka they have the most dominant central midfield in the league. That combined with a solid defence that makes them serious contenders. At 6/1 they’re an attractive price and worth considering, at least as a cover bet even if not to win outright. The injury to Per Mertesacker which is likely to rule the German out for the next four months is a major blow, with neither Gabriel Paulista nor Calum Chambers in the same class, and for that reason we think they might fall just short again.
Historical trends would suggest that you have to finish in the top three to win the league but recent years have shown that is not necessarily the truth and with the money Man Utd are able to throw at their squad they can never be ruled out. In fact they look to be in with a great chance given their transfer moves, a young squad that should improve, and Mourinho’s record of success. The negativity of the Van Gaal reign has been forgotten and if their new signings play to their potential we could be talking about a team that boasts the best keeper, defence and attack this campaign.
In contrast Man City look to be a team with too many players past their peak. They’ve ranked in the three oldest squads in the league in the past two seasons and given their best players have unreliable fitness records over the past few years that could catch up with them. We’ve already mentioned that their defence are mostly in their thirties but Yaya Toure is now 33 while Silva and Navas are both 30 and Fernandinho is 31. With Sterling struggling for form and confidence at the end of his first season a lot will ride on Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero – admittedly not bad players to put your faith in – and City’s tag as favourites is arguably as much about Guardiola’s appointment as anything else. While we don’t doubt he’s a great manager this looks to be a far greater challenge than he’s been faced with in the past.Click here to find out more about Football Form Labs