The dust has well and truly settled on Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League triumph of 2015/16, and while the initial reaction was to revel in the demise of the traditional fat cats of English football, now more analytical minds are trying to unearth just how the Foxes accomplished the feat.
How could a side who were so poor for the vast majority of the preceding campaign go and win the title the following year, losing just six games in the process? Had they unearthed some kind of secret to instant success, or was the standard of the division just that bad?
There has been plenty for the big clubs to ponder as they look to reclaim their place at the head of the table, and noticeably both Manchester clubs and Chelsea have acted swiftly and decisively in the transfer market and in staff recruitment (Arsenal haven’t, but then that’s Arsene Wenger’s way, right?).
Blue Moon Rising
Three blue riband managers have joined the Premier League ranks for the coming season: Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, Antonio Conte at Chelsea and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The former is, well, hell hath no fury like a Special One scorned – watch out for the Red Devils this term, while Conte’s brilliance at marshalling Italian teams will need to be replicated in the altogether faster and more cut-throat climes of the English top flight.
It is perhaps Guardiola’s appointment at a latent beast in Manchester City that really catches the eye. He has made sweeping changes both on and off the pitch, and spectators can expect a leaner, fitter side under the Spaniard without the sense of entitlement that the Citizens showcased at times last season.
As Champions League semi-finalists clearly the blueprint of a good side is there, and Guardiola has tweaked it ever so slightly: Nolito will add a more effective creative outlet than Jesus Navas on the flanks, while Ilkay Gundogan will add legs and bite to an increasingly pedestrian-looking midfield. Leroy Sane looks like a hot prospect for the future, while Kele Iheanacho – prolific last season when he got onto the pitch – is likely to be given more game time this season as Sergio Aguero once again gets wrapped in cotton wool.
You can make a case for United, of course, but at Chelsea and Arsenal there are too many unknowns to really offer any encouragement to punters in this market. As such, the 13/5 about Man City to be crowned Premier League champions next May looks good value.
Premier League Betting Tips – To Finish Bottom Half
Southampton have perennially overachieved in the last few years under Ronald Koeman’s stewardship given that many of their best players have been stolen away from them. Despite their losses, the Saints have always found a way to march on.
But this season they may hit something of a brick wall. Their own midfield destroyer, Victor Wanyama, has left for pastures new, while last season’s two major attacking outlets in Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle have also moved on. The difference this time around is that Claude Pel, the club’s new boss, hasn’t adequately replaced them.
It’s not all doom and gloom: Charlie Austin will do what Charlie Austin does and score goals, while the threat in the final third of Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis remains undimmed. But this Southampton squad looks rather unremarkable, and they could be battling it out with Koeman’s new club Everton, Crystal Palace, Stoke and even Leicester City for a top half berth. It’s a battle they looked doomed to lose, and so the 11/8 about them finishing eleventh or below looks a smart investment.
Premier League Relegation Betting Tips
It seems a shame to wait the best part of nine months to scoop an 8/13 payout, which is what Hull City are to suffer an instant return to the Championship, so instead pile into the 23/10 on them to finish bottom.
What can we say about the fate that has beset the Tigers: no permanent manager, a chairman that doesn’t want to be involved, an average group of players that hasn’t been strengthened and approximately 20,000 disillusioned supporters. It does not bode well for the coming campaign.