Manchester City are so far ahead of the rest of the Premier League that they seemed to have sewn up the league title ahead of Christmas. So, with the Premier League title race pretty much redundant for the rest of 2017/18, what other betting markets can fans find some real value?
Top 4 Race
It’s not just Manchester City who have raised the standard this year. Their city neighbours, Manchester United, have also progressed massively under Jose Mourinho, rediscovering their place in the league’s top four.
Liverpool have also flourished since the signing of Mo Salah, although Jurgen Klopp’s side remain notoriously inconsistent. And that’s not too mention Tottenham or last year’s champions, Chelsea. Those five sides alone expect to finish in the top four – although the laws of mathematics will prevent one of them from doing so.
But let’s not forget Arsenal. Until 2016/17, the Gunners had finished in the top four in every season of Arsene Wenger’s tenure, and pressure is high at the Emirates to see them return to Europe’s elite competition, especially after the superb signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund – one of Europe’s top marksman.
In football betting markets, though, Arsenal are long 6/1 shots to finish in the top four, while Spurs are the next shortest at 8/11. Whatever happens though: someone will be left extremely disappointed.
The Biggest Relegation Battle Ever?
And while the battle for the top four is now a six-horse race, there are at least 11 teams with serious relegation concerns, with just eight points separating tenth place from bottom as the January transfer window closed.
Unlike in previous years, where Aston Villa and Sunderland have been cast adrift as the league’s whipping boys, the same doesn’t seem to be on the cards in 2018, with very little to choose from Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Brighton, Southampton, Newcastle, West Brom, Swansea, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Stoke.
Indeed, this seems to be a season where teams are incredibly equally matched – City aside – with some of the league’s strugglers picking up surprising wins against the top sides, where January alone saw Bournemouth win 3-0 at Chelsea and Swansea beat both Liverpool and Arsenal.
With so many teams involved – and so much at stake (especially financially) – it looks as if the 2017/18 season could provide us with one of the most intriguing relegation battles of all-time.
Chase for Seventh?
Three clubs that seem in a state of flux (i.e. neither battling for the top four or against relegation) are Burnley, Leicester and Everton. So, do they have anything to play for?
Well, they could well do…
If the FA Cup finalists have already qualified for European competition – just like the League Cup finalists are likely to do – then the Premier League’s seventh position will again provide entry into the third qualifying round of the Europa League – something which Everton “benefited” from last season.
While the Europa League certainly isn’t the most glamorous competition, you can bet all three sides will be desperate for any form of European football they can get hold of.