The Premier League season is almost upon us again, with the opening matches set to take place on the 8th of August. The summer is the perfect time to place some season-long bets which will give us an interest across the whole season, and hopefully return a healthy profit by the end of it.
As ever, the competition gets stronger and stronger and several clubs have already made some notable additions to their squads during the early part of the transfer window. The promoted clubs – Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford – will have it all to do to stay in the league, and it’s no surprise that they are the three favourites for the drop. We’ve already made our prediction for the league title, so now we’re turning our attention to the relegation battle and there could be one or two shocks in store this season. QPR, Burnley and Hull were the three teams to go down last season, and although Burnley and QPR were among the favourites, Hull were a relative outsider at 7/24.50+3503.503.50-0.29
Let’s look at the likely candidates for this season in turn:
Watford got the better of Norwich and Middlesbrough in a three-way fight for the second automatic spot behind Bournemouth, and it’s a welcome return to the big time for the Hornets. It’s going to be a tough season though, and they are relying on a manager and a squad with little Premier League experience to talk of. New boss Quique Flores has been tasked with keeping them in the league, and they have added record signing Capoue from Spurs, and Valon Behrami to the squad, who have both played at the top level in England before. They will need much more than that and their chances could well depend on their business throughout the rest of the transfer window. A bottom three position beckons.
Norwich are another side relying on a rookie manager, and Alex Neal has far less experience than Flores. He had only taken the helm at Hamilton as player-manager prior to his appointment at Norwich, but he earned the plaudits with an excellent second half of the season run, which eventually led to a successful play-off campaign. They were only in the Championship for one season having been relegated previously, and they have retained some Premier League quality within the squad. In fact, most of the squad have played in the Premier League before and that will stand them in good stead over the course of the season. They have only brought in Dorrans and Mulumbu so far, who have both played Premier League football with West Brom, but they will need to add a few more quality players. They might just have enough about them to keep their heads above water.
Bournemouth and Norwich both have up-and-coming British managers, and Eddie Howe has worked miracles with the South Coast club. He has taken them through the divisions during his tenure, and deserves a crack at the Premier League. They have been praised for their expansive brand of football but whether they can maintain that at the top level remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see how they approach games, but there will be a feelgood factor at the club, and we’ve seen in the past how a team can ride that euphoria to survival. It’s often the second season which is the harder to cope with once the novelty has worn off. Bournemouth also have a fighting chance.
Sunderland are a side that have flirted with relegation for several seasons, and it could be another long hard year ahead. Veteran manager Dick Advocaat has taken the reins permanently after leading the club to 16th and survival last year, but they look to be in need of serious investment if they are to avoid a relegation battle this time around. They have brought in Coates (Liverpool) and Kaboul (Spurs) to try and shore up the back line, while Netherlands midfielder Lens, signed from Dynamo Kiev, could be an exciting player for the Sunderland faithful. However, Advocaat didn’t really have a huge impact last season on performances or results. The Black Cats struggled to 38 points, just three above the drop zone, and those three players won’t be enough to turn the fortunes of an entire football club. It’s been a downward spiral at Sunderland for too many years now, and they might finally pay the price this season. So much so, that another of our top tipsters fancies them for the wooden spoon at a big price.
Leicester look decidedly over-priced for the drop, bearing in mind the controversial summer they’ve had so far. Manager Nigel Pearson was sacked despite leading the Foxes to the ‘great escape’ last season, winning 7 of the last 9 matches when they looked destined for the drop. Claudio Ranieri has taken the reins, and although he is a vastly experienced manager, it’s questionable what he will be able to do with a limited squad. They’ve brought in Fuchs on a free from Schalke, Huth from Stoke, and Okazaki from Mainz, who scored 12 goals in the Bundesliga last term. A bid for Charlie Austin was rejected by QPR earlier in the summer, and attracting players to the King Power Stadium might prove to be difficult. They are a decent value bet for relegation, and there is little to suggest they won’t struggle just as much as last season.
Aston Villa – 15/44.75+3753.753.75-0.27 with BoyleSports
Tim Sherwood was a manager who did have an impact when he took over at Villa, leading them to Premier League safety and the FA Cup final. The loss of Vlaar and Benteke will be a big blow, and Villa are paying the price for under-investment in the team over a number of seasons. They have a lot of good young players, but they can’t be expected to carry the side for the season, and Sherwood will need to be busy in the transfer window if he gets the reported £32.5 million for Benteke. They will be in the lower reaches again, but should have just enough to survive especially if they invest that money well.
The likes of West Ham, Newcastle, West Brom and Crystal Palace will all be looking over their shoulders for the majority of the season, but all of them should be good enough to find at least three clubs worse than them over the course of the year. We’ll stick with our three tips, and for the long shot hunters among you, a relegation treble is an eye-catching price:
Watford/Sunderland/Leicester Relegation Treble – 40/141.00+400040.0040.00-0.03 with Bet365
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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