Man City: Champions look unstoppable again
Last season: 1st - 100 points, 106 Goals For, 27 Goals Against Top Goalscorer: Sergio Aguero - 21 Manager: Pep Guardiola Sportsbook Title Odds: 8/13
The Citizens broke all sorts of league records last season on their way to winning the title by a massive 19-point margin so their pre-season odds of 8/13 to retain their crown is fully justifiable, especially when you consider this season's second favourites, Liverpool, were 25 points behind Pep Guardiola's men last term. Perhaps more significant is that City have retained all their star players - and effectively all of their title-winning squad - from last season while adding the excellent attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez to their ranks. It's difficult then to see any team bridging the gap to a side boasting the attacking options of Ageuro, De Bruyne, Jesus, Mahrez, Sane, Silva, and Sterling, so the only conclusion to make is that another major trophy-chasing season is sure to end up being a successful one.
Liverpool - Klopp's men to push City most of the way
Last season: 4th - 75 points, 84 GF, 38 GA Top Goalscorer: Mo Salah - 32 Manager: Jurgen Klopp Sportsbook Title Odds: 4/1
Along with Manchester City the Reds were one of the most entertaining sides in last season's Premier League, especially when attacking with pace. Jurgen Klopp's men finished fourth last term, six points behind runners-up Manchester United and it's not difficult to envisage them turning those positions around. Liverpool are second favourites to win the league for a reason; and that's because on paper, they look good enough to challenge for the title and make Man City pull out all the stops. Klopp has strengthened in the right areas, bringing in Brazil international goalkeeper Alisson to hopefully put an end to the Reds' woes in that position, defensive midfielder Fabinho will fill the void left by Emre Can's departure, while former RB Leipzig star Naby Keïta can now pull on a Liverpool shirt in the Premier League. Xherdan Shaqiri also promises to be a magnificent signing, and we haven't even mentioned last season's star trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino. This promises to be another very exciting Liverpool team, and one that I can easily see finishing above every club bar Man City.
Manchester United - Red Devils don't look a happy camp
Last season: 2nd - 81 points, 68 GF, 28 GA Top Goalscorer: Romelu Lukaku - 16 Manager: Jose Mourinho Sportsbook Title Odds: 15/2
We struck with a very respectable 10 winners in this column 12 months ago but it would have been far better had Manchester United under-performed like I had predicted. But the belief is - on my part at least - that United weren't brilliant last term despite finishing second and that they have to be opposed again. The Red Devils haven't set the world alight in the transfer market with only Fred catching the eye, and the gut feeling is that fierce neighbours City, and arch rivals Liverpool will comfortably finish ahead of Jose Mourinho's men this term, while it's not difficult to see at least two of the other big six (Arsenal, Chelsea, and Spurs) finishing close to, or even ahead of United. It's stating the obvious, but there's also a feeling that all is not well behind the scenes at Old Trafford with Mourinho once again moaning his way through pre-season press conferences.
Chelsea - Don't expect improvement under win-less Sarri
Last season: 5th - 70 points, 62 GF, 38 GA Top Goalscorer: Eden Hazard - 12 Manager: Maurizio Sarri Sportsbook Title Odds: 12/1
There's been a change at the top at Stamford Bridge with experienced Italian Maurizio Sarritaking over from Antonio Conte. Amazingly, Chelsea is listed as Sarri's 19th club at all levels that he's managed, and perhaps surprisingly for an in-coming Blues manager he's failed to win any silverware previously. Italian midfielder Jorginho is so far Sarri's only significant summer signing, but with just two goals to his name from 134 appearances for Napoli he hardly sets the pulses racing. And with the likes of Hazard, Willian, and Courtois all attracting significant transfer interest from some major clubs, you have to seriously doubt whether the Blues will have the squad depth and mentality amongst those who stay or are made to stay, to climb back into the top four.
Tottenham - Kane to shoot Spurs to another top four finish
Last season: 3rd - 77 points, 74 GF, 36 GA Top Goalscorer: Harry Kane - 30 Manager: Mauricio Pochettino Sportsbook Title Odds: 16/1
A brand new stadium, another season of Champions League football, stars players all signed up on new contracts, you'd be forgiven for thinking the summer has gone swimmingly for Tottenham. Well I suppose it has, nothing has gone wrong, which is always a good start, but the lack of signings, any signing in fact, has some doubters wondering whether Spurs can mount another title challenge. I have no doubt whatsoever that Mauricio Pochettino's men will be in and around the top three all season. Sometimes a team doesn't need new faces to improve, and Spurs is one such example; their best starting XI has an excellent mix of experience and youth, and is still very much getting better. True, a few squad additions and perhaps one big-name signing won't go amiss - and never dismiss Daniel Levy on that front as Transfer Deadline Day approaches - but Tottenham, with Harry Kane once again likely to score 30+ league goals, will be more than a match for any outfit this term.
Arsenal - Gunners to enjoy a good season under Emery
Last season: 6th - 63 points, 74 GF, 51 GA Top Goalscorer: Alexandre Lacazette - 14 Manager: Unai Emery Sportsbook Title Odds: 25/1
It seems strange to say that one of the Premier League's 'big six' could potentially be a dark horse this term, but at 25/1 to win the title Arsenal are considered as outsiders in that particular market. But I'm quite excited by the Gunners ahead of the new season, and as outsiders of all the big six clubs to finish in the top four then that has to be the bet. Unai Emery has replaced Arsene Wenger, and unlike Chelsea, the Gunners have brought in a manager who is used to winning silverware during his time with Sevilla and PSG. Emery simply had to strengthen Arsenal's defence and he looks to have done that quite well with the additions of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner, while exciting defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira is sure to add more protection. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been well-supported in the Top Goalscorer market after his 10-goal blast (in just 12 appearances) last term, and the gut feeling is that if the likes of Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, and Lacazette stay fit and enjoy good seasons, then so too will the Gunners.
Everton - Lack of goals to see Toffees stuck in mid-table
Last season: 8th - 49 points, 44 GF, 58 GA Top Goalscorer: Wayne Rooney - 10 (no longer at club) Manager: Marco Silva Sportsbook Title Odds: 250/1
Last season was generally regarded as a failure for Everton, not least because of the lack of goals they scored. But they still finished eighth - they were predicted to finish seventh - so with an improved season this time around Toffees fans will be expecting to be on the fringes of a Top 6 Finish. Marco Silva has replaced Sam Allardyce and the 45-year-old has brought in Richarlison from his previous club Watford, while former PSG and Barcelona wing back Lucas Digne also looks like being a good addition. You sense though that the Toffees still lack that out-and-out striker who will score 20+ league goals a season, and that again could be their Achilles' heel. A lot of pressure will be at the feet of Cenk Tosun, and if he doesn't deliver then I suspect another mid-table finish is what Everton will be looking at.
Wolves - Tough task to finish top half on Premier League return
Last season: Championship Winners Top Goalscorer: Diogo Jota - 17 Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo Sportsbook Title Odds: 250/1
Wolves ran away with the Championship last season and outside of the big six they are very well fancied to make a big impact on their return to the Premier League. Nuno Santo hasn't been slow in adding more Portuguese players to his squad, bringing in Porgugal shot-stopper Rui Patrício and vastly experienced midfielder João Moutinho from Monaco, while defender Jonny Castro has arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid. Mexico striker Raul Jimenez is another eyecatching signing from the Portuguese league, but the big question is how quickly will all these foreigners adapt to England and the demands of the Premier League? Wolves look to have too much class to be involved in a relegation scrap, but they also look a tad short to finish in the top 10. It might just be a season too soon for that.
Leicester - Foxes equipped to return to the top six
Last season: 9th - 47 points, 56 GF, 60 GA Top Goalscorer: Jamie Vardy - 20 Manager: Claude Puel Sportsbook Title Odds: 300/1
It was always going to be a near-impossible task for Leicester to even get close to their title-winning heroics of a few seasons ago, but last season's ninth-place finish offers plenty of encouragement that the Foxes are ready to break back into the top six. For that to happen one of the current 'big six' needs to under-perform, but a Jose Mourinho-managed side is never far away from a bad season (see Chelsea after winning the title under the Portuguese boss), and I don't expect Chelsea to be any great shakes this term either. Jamie Vardy has now scored 20+ league goals in two of the last three seasons, and while the departure of Riyad Mahrez will hit the Foxes hard, the addition of one of the Championship's best midfielders last term, James Maddison, is a huge plus. So too are the defensive signings of Johnny Evans and Ricardo, and if Leicester can retain the services of Harry Maguire then they look like being a team that will be very difficult to beat.
West Ham - Title winner Pellegrini to guide Hammers to a Top 10 Finish
Last season: 13th - 42 points, 48 GF, 68 GA Top Goalscorer: Marko Arnautovic - 11 Manager: Manuel Pellegrini Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
With just days to go before the end of the Summer Transfer Window only Liverpool have spent more money than West Ham ahead of the new season, and they appear to have spent very well too. Having lured former Premier League title winner Manuel Pellegrini - who achieved the feat with Man City in 2013/14 - to the London Stadium the club spent big on the likes of former Borussia Dortmund attacker Andriy Yarmolenko and exciting Brazilian attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson, while the free transfer of Jack Wilshere from Arsenal means the Hammers' have a strong spine to their team. They recovered from a slow start last term to eventually finish 13th, just two points behind a top half finish, so with a high class manager now in charge, and a much stronger looking squad, odds of just over even money about West Ham finishing inside the top 10 make plenty of appeal.
Southampton - Another season of struggle in store for Saints
Last season: 17th - 36 points, 37 GF, 56 GA Top Goalscorer: Charlie Austin - 7 Manager: Mark Hughes Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
Southampton escaped by the skin of their teeth last season, their 17th-place finish ending a run of four consecutive finishes inside the top eight. It almost came from nowhere too; their squad not massively weakened from previous seasons but it soon became apparent that their form at St Mary's, and their lack of goals, would be a big problem. Charlie Austin was the Saints' top scorer last term with just seven goals and there doesn't appear to be any plans to address that problem. In fact Southampton's main transfer business this summer has been on goalkeeper Angus Gunn and defender Jannik Vestergaard, suggesting they are set for another season of struggle in front of goal. And as we all know in football, don't score goals means you don't win games. Betting.Betfair's Jamie Pacheco is thinking just like myself.
Crystal Palace - Eagles should be seen flying high all season
Last season: 11th - 44 points, 45 GF, 55 GA Top Goalscorer: Luka Milivojevic - 10 Manager: Roy Hodgson Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
Crystal Palace finished 11th last season, a remarkable achievement when you consider that they lost their first seven Premier League matches. If you calculate their average points over their subsequent 31 games over a 38-game season they'd have been level-pegging with Burnley in seventh position. There should be no slow start for the Eagles this term, and their transfer business has been decent, bringing in solid midfield performer Cheikhou Kouyatéfrom West Ham, and the highly promising German international midfielder Max Meyer from Schalke. But perhaps Roy Hodgson's best transfer business so far is retaining the services of star man Wilfried Zaha. If that's still the case on the morning of Friday 10 August then Palace will represent a rock-solid wager to finish inside the top 10 this season.
Newcastle - How long will Rafa last?
Last season: 10th - 44 points, 39 GF, 47 GA Top Goalscorer: Ayoze Perez - 8 Manager: Rafa Benitez Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
A 10th place finish was a super achievement for Newcastle last season on their return to the Premier League. To put that into perspective, as Dave Tindall explains in this superb Top 10 Finish preview, only three teams have achieved that feat from the last 30 newly-promoted clubs. But don't expect the Magpies to kick on this term. Another pre-season has passed by without any major signings, and Rafa Benitez is again bemoaning the lack of funds being spent by owner Mike Ashley. Newcastle look a bit short in attack (no pun intended on Dwight Gayle's part), and although I expect them to beat the drop I'd be very surprised if they finished top half of the table once again. Benitez doesn't appear to be a patient man either, and he knows he will be in demand if his services become available. If the next few days don't go well in the transfer window, and Newcastle start the season slowly, then Benitez might just walk... or even be sacked.
Bournemouth - Another solid season in store for the Cherries
Last season: 12th - 44 points, 45 GF, 61 GA Top Goalscorer: Josh King & Callum Wilson - 8 Manager: Eddie Howe Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
It's difficult not to have admiration for Eddie Howe's Bournemouth. Less than 10 years ago they finished 21st in League Two; last season they completed their third consecutive season in the Premier League, finishing ninth and 12th in their last two campaigns. They've barely added to their squad as things stand so once against the talented Josh King and Callum Wilson will lead the line, but as with Spurs I don't necessarily see that as a negative if the squad you've already got is a very solid and reliable outfit. And that's exactly what the Cherries appear to be. They won't get near the top six, but they'll be in no danger of relegation, and the latter is something that I can't be confident about when it comes to Bournemouth's south coast rivals Brighton and Southampton.
Burnley - No repeat of last season's heroics
Last season: 7th - 54 points, 36 GF, 39 GA Top Goalscorer: Chris Wood - 10 Manager: Sean Dyche Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
Burnley enjoyed a magnificent season last time around, exceeding all expectations by finishing seventh and qualifying for the Europa League. I think it will be a huge achievement if Sean Dyche can get anywhere near seventh this season, and I won't be surprised at all if the Clarets get dragged into a relegation scrap at some stage. There's been very little transfer activity at Turf Moor - though the recent signing of central defender Ben Gibson from Middlesbrough is a step in the right direction - and I have to question how Dyche's squad will cope with mixing Premier League football with Thursday night European action. Bigger clubs than Burnley have struggled with it. My gut feeling is that Burnley will survive, and probably a bit more comfortable than I'm anticipating, so it's difficult to nail down a bet for them. The only club they've been priced up against in a Season Match Bet is Palace, so that will have to be it, albeit it a very confident selection.
Watford - Gracia will do well to keep Hornets afloat
Last season: 14th - 41 points, 44 GF, 64 GA Top Goalscorer: Abdoulaye Doucoure - 7 Manager: Javier Gracia Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
Watford started last season extremely well, but perhaps in hindsight it was a mistake not to let Marco Silva leave when Everton first made an approach. Silva, with his sights perhaps set elsewhere, wasn't the same manager after that and the Hornets tumbled down the league table. Silva was eventually sacked, and Javier Gracia came in to steady the ship. The Spanish boss has lost arguably one of the club's star men, Richarlison, to Everton, but it seems Watford learned their lessons; if someone wants to go elsewhere then it's best to let them. Transfer activity has been very low key during the summer, no big-name signings, no sign of the Richarlison cash being spent, not even a decent rumour of any Deadline Day activity. I fear for Watford this term; from their last 18 games of last season they picked up just 16 points. Average less than a point per game in this league and you're in huge trouble.
Fulham - Cottagers to be best of the promoted clubs
Last season: Promoted via Championship Play-Offs Top Goalscorer: Ryan Sessegnon - 15 Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
I can easily see at least two of the three newly-promoted clubs surviving this term and Fulham are definitely top of my list. It's perhaps gone a little unnoticed that they've actually spent more than Wolves in the summer. I'm a big fan of Alfie Mawson and believe he's exactly the type of singing the Cottagers needed, while £25m capture Jean Seri and the potential superb loan signing of former Chelsea man Andre Schurrle, will add a lot of strength to their attacking midfield options. Big money has also been spent on making Aleksandar Mitrovic a permanent signing and it's not difficult to envisage the Serbian international scoring at least 15 goals this term. Fulham should be set for a good season, and I think they're a cracking bet to finish above fellow promoted clubs Wolves and Cardiff.
Brighton - Seagulls set for a miserable campaign
Last season: 15th - 40 points, 34 GF, 54 GA Top Goalscorer: Glenn Murray - 12 Manager: Chris Hughton Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
When it comes to the relegation places I fancy Cardiff to struggle (see below), while I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of Southampton, Watford, Burnley, and Newcastle in and around the bottom three at some stage of the season. But my gut feeling is that one of the previous season's promoted clubs - Newcastle being one of them of course - will go down, and that Brighton and Huddersfield will be chief among the strugglers. The Seagulls deserve credit for surviving last season, but they did so with just a few games to spare and I expect another campaign in which Chris Hughton's men will never be comfortable. Alireza Jahanbakhsh has arrived at the Amex with a decent reputation in Dutch football as a goal-scoring winger, and midfielder Yves Bissouma is a yongster with potential, but neither, or any other of Brighton's signings, get me overly excited. The Seagulls might just be worth a punt to finish bottom of the pile.
Huddersfield - Second Season Syndrome to hit the Terriers
Last season: 16th - 37 points, 28 GF, 58 GA Top Goalscorer Steve Mounie - 7 Manager: David Wagner Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
The Terriers were another side to survive narrowly last term, but you just sense that this year's Premier League will be slightly different, in that there won't be eight or nine clubs still in with a realistic chance of being relegated going into the last four games of the season. I imagine that a few of the cubs that will start slowly will stay in trouble throughout the campaign, and one such club is Huddersfield. David Wagner's men have to travel to Manchester City, Everton, and Leicester in their first three away games, while they also host Chelsea, Tottenham, and Liverpol before the middle of October. That's four of the 'big six', plus two clubs fancied to finish in the top half of the table, and last season's 7th (Burnley) and 11th (Palace) place finishers to play in eight of their first nine fixtures. Look no further if you want to be paid out at Christmas.
Cardiff - Long and low-scoring season ahead for Warnock's men
Last season: Second in Championship Top Goalscorer: Callum Paterson - 10 Manager: Neil Warnock Sportsbook Title Odds: 500/1
It's difficult to find any positives for Cardiff ahead of the new season and they understandably trade as the shortest price team in the Exchange Relegation market at 1.68. Manager Neil Warnock has a very poor top flight record with previous clubs Sheffield United, QPR, and Crystal Palace, and his Cardiff squad doesn't look good enough to improve that record anytime soon. New signings Bobby Reid, Josh Murphy and Greg Cunningham have added depth to the squad but they certainly don't look like significantly improving it. The Bluebirds deserve credit for gaining promotion but it's worth remembering that they did so with a top goalscorer who bagged just 10 goals... and he is a defender! I predict a huge struggle for Cardiff, and a very low-scoring season is most definitely on the cards.
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