Usually one does not subscribe to the view that it makes sense to bet small in the opening rounds of a season but that is the approach that one recommends taking to the English Premier League, which kicks off on Friday.
In most major competitions, the first few rounds are the ones in which bookmakers make the most mistakes but there does not appear to be a huge amount of value in the first batch of English Premier League games, which will get under way with a match between Arsenal and Leicester in London.
Rumours abound that Liverpool are going to lose Philippe Coutinho to cashed-up Barcelona but, even if the Brazil midfielder swaps Anfield for Camp Nou before the Reds line up against Watford on Saturday, one thinks that they will get off to a winning start in the English Premier League.
Liverpool beat Watford at home and away in last season’s English Premier League – 6-1 at Anfield and 1-0 at Vicarage Road – and, even if Coutinho leaves for sunnier climes, the Reds look stronger in their latest campaign under their charismatic coach, Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool looks full of goals with its strongest side including Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Coutinho, while the Reds did a smart piece in recruiting Dominic Solanke from Chelsea – he was a star in many Blues youth teams.
Watford lost each of its last six English Premier League games, a run that ensured that the Hornets would consign Walter Mazzarri to the managerial scrapheap. Watford went hard to secure the services of former Hull boss Marco Silva but he is facing a second consecutive English Premier League relegation battle, not least because the Hornets have Troy Deeney up front. One cannot understand why Watford turned down Leicester’s very large offer for Deeney’s signature.
Whereas Liverpool was the only English Premier League side not to lose a team ranked in the top eight last term, Watford was the worst side that did not suffer the dreaded drop. Several bookmakers, including Coral, Ladbrokes and SkyBet, are quoting odds of -175 about Liverpool earning three points from its English Premier League opener and that is one’s idea of the most appealing wager on a tough card.
The jury is out regarding Pep Guardiola and this season will go a long way to determining whether the Manchester City coach is a myth or a reality. If Manchester City is serious about contending for the English Premier League title – and given the millions that the Citizens have enabled Guardiola to spend, they are deadly serious – then it must be too strong for promoted Brighton in Saturday’s late match.
In stark contrast to Liverpool, which could not put away the English Premier League’s weaklings last term, Manchester City swept aside the division’s lightweights – the Citizens were 21-4-1 versus teams below seventh on the ladder. So one’s second English Premier League pick is Manchester City to beat Brighton at odds of -294 with Marathonbet.
Finally, one is willing to oppose another of the English Premier League’s newcomers, Huddersfield, when it tackles Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Huddersfield had a negative goal difference in the English Championship last season and its warm-up games have been characterised by defensive mishaps, conceding goals with great regularity.
Marathonbet is listing odds of -120 about Crystal Palace getting the better of a Huddersfield side that looks like nothing more than a decent English Championship outfit.
Liverpool to beat Watford
Saturday 12th August, 12:30 GMT
Manchester City to beat Brighton
Saturday 12th August, 17:30 GMT
Crystal Palace to beat Huddersfield
Saturday 12th August, 15:00 GMT