The new season is still six weeks away, with the first Premier League games to be played on the 12th of August. It’s at this time of the season we like to build up a portfolio of different bets that will either give us a run for our money all season long, or provide opportunities to lay for a profit partway through the campaign.
This week it’s a look at the relegation markets and the teams that will be likely to battle it out to avoid the drop. One of my esteemed colleagues here at Sports Betting Online has already made the case for backing Huddersfield to finish bottom of the table, suspecting that despite the feel good factor the Terriers might be outclassed over the long haul.
It’s no surprise that David Wagner’s play off winners are also outright favourites for the drop, but the bookmakers rate the other promoted sides slightly better. Brighton are similar odds to Burnley and the layers obviously expect both to have a tough time this year, but Newcastle are obviously fancied to have a much better season as they feature above the likes of Watford and Swansea in the markets.
Baggies to Bounce?
That will come as a surprise to many followers of the Premier League, particularly as the Baggies have the well-respected Tony Pulis as manager. The no-nonsense boss has been credited with keeping Stoke in the Premier League during his time there, and similarly Crystal Palace during his brief tenure in 2013/14. He was appointed West Brom manager on the 1st January 2015, and has since led the Baggies to 13th, 14th and 10th placed finishes.
It remains to be seen how transfer activity progresses over the summer, but one or two recent announcements don’t make great reading for West Brom fans. Firstly Darren Fletcher has left the club for Stoke City, despite being given a ‘fair and competitive offer’. Secondly, The Midlands club have cooled interest in Leeds defender Charlie Taylor because of fears over the size of any tribunal fee they may be ordered to pay.
These do not sound like the noises being made by a club that has cash to splash, but like most mid-table sides the Baggies’ squad is rather thin. There are of course several quality players at the club, including Gareth McCauley, Ben Foster, Salomon Rondon, Matt Phillips and Nacer Chadli. The latter three will be expected to run the attacking side of the game as they did last season, but any loss of form or injuries could be catastrophic. The four outfield players mentioned there were responsible for an astonishing 25 of the Baggies’ 34 goals last term, showing just how reliant they are on the players with a little bit of extra quality about them.
Looking at the other sides who will be trying to stave off relegation suggests that this will be a long slog for many. Huddersfield are as short as -200 in some places, and not a single bookmaker is offering odds-against about them suffering the drop.
Burnley and Brighton are available at around +130 with various bookmakers, and both are expected to be in the bottom half fighting it out for most of the season.
Burnley have been up, down and up again in the last three seasons, swapping Premier League and Championship football. Survival last season was a credit to Sean Dyche and his players, and although this will be the notorious ‘second season’, they may just have enough to begin establishing themselves as a top flight side. Home form last season was their biggest strength, and if they can make Turf Moor a fortress again they will have every chance.
Brighton under Chris Hughton have been knocking on the Premier League door for a couple of seasons, and earned promotion after finishing second behind Newcastle in 2016/17. This will be their first ever Premier League campaign, and their first in the top flight since relegation in the 1982/83 season. The Seagulls are also a very strong home side and that, along with the feel good factor, might see them be competitive down at the bottom.
Watford are available at +175 but have snapped up manager Marco Silva from Hull, and have just signalled their intent by splashing out £8 million on Derby County’s highly-rated midfielder Will Hughes. Although they finished 17th last term, they were six points clear of the bottom three and one suspects they may have a better time of things this year.
Swansea are a side that could be in more danger at +225 having barely survived last season, but can they be as bad again? Paul Clement has insisted the club do not have to sell and they’ve already secured the services of promising young Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham. It’s also worth remembering that they went through three managers last season, including the ill-fated reign of Bob Bradley, so a bit more stability this season may go a long way.
Stability is something that Rafa Benitez has brought back to Newcastle after various seasons of calamity, and he will have the budget and support to make the Magpies competitive in the top flight again. At odds of around +400 to suffer relegation, one would rather pass them over in favour of an outside bet on West Brom.
West Brom to be relegated
Premier League 2017/18