It's time for international soccer to take over, so we've asked our tipster Lee Phelps to look at the betting in the Premier League, to select his free picks from the odds on four markets from England's top flight
Another international break gives us a great chance to look at the Premier League and take stock of who has started well, who is struggling and scan the betting odds for some value.
Before placing a futures bet on Chelsea, consider that they are virtually unbackable at these prices (8/15), given there have only been seven games. As good as they have been, we’ve seen plenty of teams who look fantastic fall away for one reason or another, you only have to look at Liverpool last season. They were bigger odds-on than Chelsea with a few games to go. Admittedly Chelsea do have a much stronger claim, with class throughout and a manager used to winning.
Their one problem major would be an injury to Diego Costa, who has started phenomenally well, scoring nine goals from 22 shots on goal. Anyone looking for a bet on the Premier League title would do worse than backing Manchester City at 14/5. They won’t let Chelsea too far out of their sights, still have to play the Blues again and have an arguably easier run-in at the end of the season. An each way bet for a place in the top two looks a shoo-in.
Manchester United’s back-to-back wins have seen them strengthen as the favourites at 4/7 (outside Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal) but it’s an ugly price for a team who are still riding their luck. They were fortunate to get all three points from West Ham and Everton. They will improve though, especially if they spend in January.
Liverpool will improve too, but they need Sturridge to play for the rest of the campaign and don’t forget he has missed 32 matches over the past two seasons. Man United have an unusually tricky end to the season with the top six from last season in their last 11 games, whilst Liverpool have three of those teams. Because I think Louis Van Gaal’s team will struggle against the better sides, I’ll side with Liverpool at 5/4 over Manchester United, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal in the top three.
Based on current online sportsbook offerings, this could be the best market available for Premier League bettors at the moment. The 10th place club has amassed 47, 47, 50, 49 and 50 points over the last five seasons. Any one of four clubs at odds against prices have a genuine chance of reaching that tally.
Hull (7/2) have spent well, have match winners and a solid look to them at their best. Worryingly they have been far too open at times, but when Steve Bruce gets them focused and has his best team out they are capable of beating anyone from 8th down.
Leicester (3/1) have proved they are capable of playing very well against the best sides in the English top flight, the problem for them has been taking on the less fashionable teams. Crystal Palace beat them and Burnley snatched a draw. If Nigel Pearson can get them switched on for every game, with Leonardo Ulloa and Jamie Vardy able to punish teams they can win plenty of games.
West Ham (2/1) have looked so much better since Sam Allardyce let them ‘off the leash’ at Hull. Since that 2-2 draw (which they should have won) they have beaten Liverpool, been unlucky not to get something at Old Trafford and beaten QPR 2-0. If Sakho and Valencia stay fit, they will beat a lot of sides, plus Kouyate is a major player for them. He’s injured at the moment after picking up a groin injury, but if he can get a spell in the side he is the midfield base that will allow the creative players to thrive.
Finally Stoke (21/10) are perhaps the value price of the four I have picked out. They are the team most likely to finish in the top ten after last season’s 9th. Mark Hughes managed to get them to their highest finish despite only having one full season with the side. They have spent well and are gradually managing to combine their dogged defensive ability with creativity on the break. They have pace so will play on the counter away from home, it’s just mixing that with more solid displays at the Britannia they are struggling with at the moment.
I’d pick West Ham of the four at the prices on offer. I was tempted by Leicester, but I fear they could have a bad spell, which may rock their confidence, whereas the Hammers have Premier League experience and players who can produce magic.
Before the start of the season, pundits were saying ’13 teams could down’ but after seven games I think that was a massive overreaction or some serious fence-sitting. I see Burnley, Crystal Palace, QPR and Aston Villa as the teams most worthy of relegation soccer picks and that is purely because of their inability to score goals.
Burnley were defensively tight, but have now conceded six in two games, Crystal Palace do have pace to counter teams, but need more lethal finishers and if Hull thwarted them at home, surely others will too; QPR have disappointed me. I thought they’d be much better, but by their manager’s own admission they aren’t fit enough for the Premier League. It’s a staggering statement and you can see it in their performances. Conceding a lot and not scoring is not a good recipe.
Aston Villa started well, but were getting away with it a bit for me, they are bottom of the shots on goal stats and are starting to leak goals. Benteke coming back will help, but I don’t trust strikers who haven’t had a proper pre-season to suddenly score 15 to 20 goals on their return and that’s what Villa need. I’ll go for Burnley, QPR and Palace to be relegated, with Villa, West Brom, Newcastle and Sunderland surviving narrowly.