With the majority of soccer bettors still focused on the World Cup, there’s no better time than right now to try to find some perceived value in futures bets in the English Premier League with the upcoming season now just a little more than a month away.
So far, most of the talk in this somewhat early stage of this summer’s transfer period has been on two of the EPL’s perennial Fab Four—Chelsea and Manchester United—with the lads from West London landing Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid) and Cesc Fàbregas (Barcelona) and the brass from Old Trafford signing Luke Shaw (Southampton) and Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao).
With so many more deals still to come and other players sure to leave their current teams in England’s top flight, it’s hard right now to see precisely what these clubs rosters will eventually look like. Still, with only one team outside of the Fab Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United) having won the EPL since its inception 1992-93—Blackburn Rovers (1994-95)—it’s probably not too wise to make a larger wager on anyone other than one of those four monsters.
But one never knows. If Columbus never left Spain...
It seems that the only way to approach the EPL futures odds at this preseason point in early July—despite all of the lofty expectations and sly manager José Mourinho—is to probably stay away from Chelsea, the opening favorites at 2/1, simply because of the oh-so short odds. Only true Blues fans will likely want a Chelsea futures bet at 2/1 as the common sports gambler, or punter, just doesn’t want to wait all the way until next May to try to only double his or her money.
Instead, anyone looking to make a larger-sized futures bet would probably be better off taking a little gamble on one of the two storied Mancunians somehow beating Chelsea out for the EPL championship, while those in the market for smaller- or medium-sized futures bets have some pretty decent and fun options—with some really long odds on them—which could provide quite the season-long ride, and possibly a massive payday and a story for years to come. Usually not though.
The Usuall Suspects
Defending champions Manchester City (7/4, sportsbook.ag) and their Not-So Noisy Last Season Neighbors Manchester United (11/2) seem to both be capable of making runs at the Blues as both the Sky Blues and the Red Devils are usually incredibly strong teams on their home soil, have very deep, talented rosters with solid strikers, possess somewhat solid goalkeepers (Joe Hart and David de Gea) and have potential breakout stars in Jesús Navas (City) and Adnan Januzaj (United).
But still, whether they end up going with youngster Thibaut Courtois—who will be back at Stamford Bridge after being out on loan at Atlético—or dependable veteran Petr Cech, Chelsea will have a star in goal and with John Terry, Gary Cahill and César Azpilicueta all in their back four, the Blues will be both hard to score on again and hard to beat both at home and away.
Liverpool (11/2) almost got the bacon last season, and, made huge strides as a club to be a threat for years to come, but, with Luis Suárez possibly heading to Barcelona after his latest biting incident for his native Uruguay in the World Cup and the subsequent suspension, backing the Reds through what will be a big change is asking a bit too much, even with Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and new-signee Adam Lallana (Southampton) all in their primes at Anfield.
Arsenal (11/1) had an extremely good start last season and has a nice nucleus of talented youth in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Jack Wilshere (22) and Aaron Ramsey (23) but, with Arsene Wenger at the helm, Piers Morgan a rabid fan and spring swoons now seemingly commonplace and expected, the Gunners don’t seem worth even a small play this season. The FA Cup will have to do.
And it’s almost always at this point in the EPL futures odds every season where you see a massive jump in the odds between possible contenders and probable pretenders and this year is no exception with odds for Tottenham Hotspur (50/1) almost five times as high as its North London neighbors, Arsenal (11/1). Spurs have lost stars like Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) and Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC) over the past two years and unless it makes some huge signings over the next eight weeks, Spurs will likely just not have the depth or confidence to make a run at the Premiership title.
The odds skyrocket again as the oddsmakers’ seventh choice, Everton (125/1), would pay well over twice what a potential Tottenham winning bet would should the Toffees somehow win the league. But with Everton mad and motivated after just missing out on possible UEFA Champions League spot last season, crafty manager Roberto Martínez leading the way and always underrated goalkeeper Tim Howard spearheading the defense, taking a shot on the Toffees at 125/1 for a nominal amount is highly recommended but remember they likely won’t have Chelsea-loanee Romelu Lukaku (15 goals) at their disposal this time around.
Southampton (500/1) finished in eighth place last season, and, in the end, were a club that nobody wanted to play. Now the Saints are both respected and feared by the rest of the league but this summer has started out very rough with the aforementioned Shaw (United) and Lalanna (Liverpool) having already left and right back Calum Chambers being pursued by Arsenal. Like Liverpool, if it loses EPL Player of the Year Suárez, Southampton will unfortunately have to endure some growing pains. But, at 500/1, a $5 recreational toss might provide nine months of fun and maybe $2,500 if the stars line up right...or maybe wrong.
The Bottom Twelve
The remaining 12 teams in the Premier League are all priced at quadruple-digit odds with Newcastle United (1000/1), Aston Villa (2500/1), Stoke City (2500/1), Sunderland (2500/1), Swansea City (2500/1) and Hull City (3000/1) all looking to make a little history this season.
Out of that longshot batch, the three ‘S’ ’s look the most appealing, and, for a minimum wager amount, could provide some cheap thrills. Stoke City finished ninth in 2013-2014, and, with Peter Odemwingie and new striker Mame Diouf, the Potters will be fun to watch and, at 2500/1, a $5 bet would reap a lotto-like $12,500 and surely some new silver suede shoes if Mark Hughes’ side miraculously brings home the crown to Stoke-on-Trent.
Sunderland, which finished in 14th place last season, is another scrappy side that fears nobody and, also at 2500/1, the Black Cats are worth consideration for a minimal amount. Swansea City—also at that longshot 2500/1 price—however, does not seem like a good value at all with striker Wilfried Bony, goalkeeper Michel Vorm and defender Ben Davies all potentially set to leave the Swans and midfielder Michu reportedly on the verge of heading to Serie A and Napoli.
West Bromwich Albion (5000/1) and West Ham United (5000/1) always seem to travel in the same little ‘West’, mid-table circle. Last season, the Baggies avoided relegation with a 17th-place finish while the Hammers ended up in 13th place in the standings. This season, sheer survival may end up being the mantra for both clubs and although 5,000/1 looks appealing, remember how cumulatively brutal their home and road schedules will be in the rough-and-tumble EPL.
Rounding out the rest of the field are some more extreme longshots in Crystal Palace (5000/1), Leicester City (5000/1), Queens Park Rangers (5000/1) and Burnley (7500/1)—the latter three all promoted to the big time this season as Fulham, Cardiff City and Norwich City were all relegated.
Recent history dictates that one of the big clubs from Mancunia or Londontown end up winning the Premier League over one of the other big clubs from Mancunia or Londontown, but it’s always fun to have a futures ticket or two and know you have a bet that will, make that should still be worth pulling for in the calendar year 2015.
But remember that many deals will still be done between now and Aug. 31—when the transfer window officially closes—and that the rosters all of these 20 above clubs will start the season with will look much different than they actually do at the moment. And some players who have upped their values and profiles in the FIFA World Cup will no doubt end up on some EPL teams.
Placing Your Premier League Future Picks
The Premier League season kicks on Saturday, Aug. 16 with a full slate of 10 matches so, if you like the preseason futures odds of one of these teams—or are just a fan of one and would like to back your boys—it’s ideal to lock your bet in now but remember to shop around for the best price among your various online sportsbooks.
In reality, with four teams with shorts odds dominating the EPL, finding Premier League betting value in any futures bets picks in this particular league has always been fairly tough sledding. Liverpool—at 25/1 in some sportsbooks at this time last summer—almost came through for its backers.
Here are the recommended futures betting picks mentioned above, categorized by the suggested size of the potential wager if you are interested. Next up, I’ll take look at Spanish La Liga futures odds followed by a preview of futures in Italian Serie A.
Free Larger-Sized Plays : Manchester City (7/4), Manchester United (11/2)
Free Medium-Sized Plays: Everton (125/1), Southampton (500/1)
Free Small-Sized Plays: Stoke City (2500/1), Sunderland (2500/1)