The English Premier League season is rapidly drawing to a close and it looks set to be one of the closest ever, particularly when you consider all aspects of the league. Who will emerge victorious? Will Manchester City claim back to back titles, or will Liverpool end the near 30 year wait for a First Division triumph? Which of the four teams in the next pack down will claim third and fourth to clinch Champions League football next season? And finally, which sides will slump to relegation? It’s all to play for so let’s make some bets.
At the top, it’s a two horse race for the crown. Manchester City would appear to be an unstoppable juggernaut whilst Liverpool have shown signs of the pressure getting to them; the cracks are there for all to see and a two-goal win over lowly Burnley isn’t nearly enough to paper over them. City are odds on for good reason but back them now and there is still a decent return to be had. If you wait for a couple more matchdays to pass by then it’s likely those odds will get worse and worse as the finale looms nearer.
Down the bottom Huddersfield and Fulham are sinking without much of a fight despite the fact both have sacked managers hoping to generate a springboard. Goals win games and the Terriers are rock bottom because of the fact they can’t find the net. They simply won’t get out trouble. They’re heavy odds on to end the season in 20th position and whilst it’s poor odds in a betting market, it’s somewhat better than investing in a savings account, the interest is as good as guaranteed (although I won’t be liable if a miracle does happen). Fulham have turned in some positive performances without achieving the results they’d have liked and so remain doomed to relegation.
That means the relegation battle ultimately comes down to one spot – who will end up in the dreaded spot? The odds say Cardiff. It’s hard to disagree. Boost your odds by backing a straight relegation treble – Huddersfield bottom, Fulham second and Cardiff third. Southampton and Burnley remain heavily in the mix though, but the Saints have improved under Ralph Hasenhuttl and Burnley, particularly under Sean Dyche, can grind out results when they’re most needed.
The Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer, throws up some interesting possibilities too. Sergio Aguero and Mo Salah, of Man City and Liverpool respectively, are separated by a single goal – Harry Kane and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang also sit joint second on 17 goals – and they rightly head the betting but Sadio Mane and Raheem Stirling, also of the top two teams, are only two and three goals away from Aguero. Their odds are much bigger and it’s quite feasible that either of those could bang in multiple goals between now and the season close.
Strangely, perhaps the juiciest watch will be the fight for the top four. Tottenham Hotspur were considered in the title race until a couple of weeks ago; since then they’ve lost points like a holey bucket loses water and are in with a real possibility of finding themselves in the Europa League next year; the ball is in their court but away trips to the Etihad and Anfield could prove key. Spurs’ North London rivals, Arsenal, put themselves in a strong position heading into the final phase following a great win over Manchester United and have the easiest run in – on paper – so they seem a good bet.
Question marks remain over Chelsea and their ability to find consistency on the pitch and they’re a mess off it. Their star man, Eden Hazard, looks set to move on, a transfer embargo could follow and then there is what they do with the managerial position. Despite holding a decent position now, it’s hard to see them getting over the line.
The other team knocking on the door of the top four is Manchester United, who until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived were completely out of the picture. Fast forward a few months and, if they can bounce back from the Arsenal defeat, then their form could see them clinch the final place. Back Arsenal and United for top four and you’ll find good odds.
Whatever bets you place, remember to bet safe and, most importantly, enjoy the rollercoaster that is the Premier League.