We don’t like to be grumpy sorts in this corner of Sportsbook Review. We really don’t. Indeed, it is not the psyche of the gambler to do so. Betting, most of the time, is about positive people – too positive actually – wagering on something they desperately want to happen or fervently believe will happen because ‘so-and-so is a brilliant player’ or ‘this team is the best for years’.
Most markets are, in fact, about positive things happening. A team winning a championship. A team getting promoted. But not a relegation market. This is where the misery and the gloom can be found. So do forgive us if we wade right out to the middle and have a good, old wallow.
The Premier League relegation market is chock full of value because there are some darn poor teams in the league for the 2017-18 season. Their names trip off the tongue like a compendium of historic football mediocrity and disaster: Huddersfield, Burnley, Brighton, Watford, Newcastle. Urgh. Make it stop.
But it is true that the Premier League is three leagues in two. There are the six team to battle it out for the Champions League places, then another seven or so (Everton, Southampton, Leicester, West Ham, Stoke and WBA) expecting to make gradual improvement in mid-table and then there is the relegation battle. The teams mentioned above, and probably Swansea, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace are just hoping to survive for another season and get the whopping cash handout.
But because we are old cynics who like to get very down in the dumps about a team’s chances, we are actually going to highlight a couple of teams from that middle group who could get sucked in to a relegation dogfight. Step, or rather stumble, forward Leicester and West Ham.
Leicester (yeah, yeah, they won the title two seasons ago, so what?) are an unpleasant bunch who, because they had too many egos and prima donnas in their team, got Claudio Ranieri the sack last season as they hurtled towards disaster. Craig Shakespeare took over and ‘rescued’ them from the ignominy of the drop. He is now seen as some sort of saviour and has been awarded a lengthy contract.
It is, however, an inconvenient truth that Shakespeare’s methods worked only for a few weeks. And then Leicester reverted to type. They won only two of their last ten in all competitions. It is the sort of sequence of results that suggests there are real problems. And they look certain to lose their best player, Riyad Mahrez. At +1600 for the drop with William Hill, it is a price which cannot be missed.
West Ham are similarly good value for a gory end. They won three of their last 14 in the league. We are convinced that coach Slaven Bilic is in way over his head and does not have the tactical brain to stave off a really terrible season. Their defence is poor, their organisation non-existent and often the Hammers played as if there was no plan at all.
They are +1000 (Paddy Power) for the drop and that looks a corker of a bet, too.