There may be a sense of inevitably about the destination of the Premier League title this season, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for over the next nine months. These five wagers should help punters retain an interest.
Straight forecast: Man City 1st, Liverpool 2nd: 3-1
Let’s get the easy one out of the way. Next May, Manchester City will become the first Premier League team to retain the title since Manchester United made it three on the trot in 2009. Pep Guardiola’s men turned the title race into a procession last season, finishing up with 100 points, 19 more than their nearest pursuers, Jose Mourinho’s United.
They may not be quite as dominant this season, but it’s almost impossible to imagine any team bridging such a gap.
However, they are priced accordingly and no-one will be getting rich backing him. With that in mind, the wisest punting angle looks to be a straight forecast and the recommendation is to back Liverpool to be City’s closest pursuers at odds of 3-1.
The Reds could only manage fourth last season, but Jurgen Klopp has spent wisely — if not cheaply — over the summer and they look best equipped to keep City honest.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to win the golden boot: 6-1
Given his exploits in recent seasons, it’s no surprise that Harry Kane is clear favourite at 3-1 to win back the golden boot he surrendered to Mohamed Salah last season. Nor is it a surprise the Liverpool star, 66-1 for this gong this time last year, is next best in the betting at 11-2.
Assuming they avoid injury, the goals should continue to flow for these ace marksmen but they may find Aubameyang too hot to live with. The Gabon striker joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January and a return of 10 goals in 13 games for a Gunners side that was little short of shambles was a superb return.
Given his pedigree, he shouldn’t be twice Kane’s price and he rates as the value option to pip the Spurs striker.
Leroy Sane to be PFA Player of the Year: 20-1
Sane was named the PFA Young Player of the Year last season and there’s lots to like about the brilliant German’s chances of landing the senior award at tasty odds of 20-1 this season.
As a key component in a Manchester City side likely to repeat last season’s dominance, Sane will have ample opportunity to catch the eye and will start the season fresher than most, having been controversially left out of Germany’s squad for the World Cup.
The 22-year-old will be desperate to illustrate his omission was a calamitous mistake on the part of Jogi Low. Talented, refreshed, and with a point to prove, Sane is fancied to terrorise opposition defences this season.
Rafael Benitez to be first manager to leave: 7-1
Former Liverpool boss Benitez worked miracles to guide Newcastle to 10th last season, but the Spaniard, rarely silent when displeased, won’t be happy with the lack of transfer activity over the summer.
Also, given Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal are four of Newcastle’s first five opponents this season, the Magpies could find themselves in deep trouble very quickly. Should that happen, it’ll be no surprise if Benitez decides to quickly abandon ship.
Cardiff City to be bottom at Christmas: 9-2
All three promoted clubs survived last season, but history tells us that at least one goes straight back to where they came from.
This season, Cardiff City look the most vulnerable newbie. That’s certainly how the bookies’ view it, with Neil Warnock’s limited journeymen odds-on to go down.
With that in mind, odds of 9-2 on the Bluebirds being at the foot of the table when Santa visits look more than generous. They’re simply out of their depth at this level.