Arsenal for top four and other Premier League specials

Date published: Friday 11th September 2020 7:22

It barely feels like we’ve had a break since Jesse Lingard pounced on a Kasper Schmeichel error to wrap up Manchester United’s top-four finish and Bournemouth slipped into the Championship despite their win over Everton on the final day of last season.

But it is time to look ahead to the 2020-21 season, with a little help from the Betfair odds…

 

A little four play

Thankfully it’s been a long time since the days of the ‘Sky Four’ with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea monopolising the Champions League spots year on year.

The Abu Dhabi petrodollars saw Manchester City push their way in while Tottenham should never be discounted anymore and Leicester made one famous appearance – and almost returned to the elite quartet last season.

The market has last season’s top four – Liverpool, City, Manchester United and Chelsea – all odds-on. Unsurprisingly, the latter two are considered most vulnerable. Both are 2/5 to finish in the top four.

Tottenham are 10/3, which could be good value if you listen to Jose Mourinho. He’s been incredibly keen to point out that Spurs would have been in the top four if only games after his November appointment had been taken into account.

Despite this fact, it is Arsenal who look best-equipped to challenge the status quo.

After some strong signs of improvement under Mikel Arteta, the Gunners are still 11/4 to finish in the top four, which could look big if they start where they left off.

Arteta’s men beat Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the closing weeks of the season, collecting the FA Cup along the way.

With Dani Ceballos back, Gabriel Magalhaes strengthening the defence and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still at the Emirates, Arsenal could contend. That’s with emphasis on the could.

Wolves are another with potential here. They were close to the top four for most of last season, this despite having to deal with the rigours of a Europa League campaign.

With no such distraction this time around, Nuno’s side can go full pelt in the league and could be a dark horse at 13/2.

‘My team is better than your team’

Your workplace bet against the loud-mouthed colleague who supports your bitter rivals is rarely actually a 50-50 chance – you’re much better taking the odds from a proper bookie.

And these days you can get a price about virtually any team to finish above any other in the Premier League.

Even the most diehard Everton fan probably won’t waste their money on backing the Blues to finish ahead of Liverpool (it’s a 90/1 chance) but the Arsenal-Spurs rivalry is a much closer affair with the Gunners slight favourites at 8/11 to finish higher in the coming campaign.

However, there’s another derby match-up which looks to offer a good bet – namely Crystal Palace to finish above Brighton.

In truth, both sides look set for a season of struggle in the bottom half of the table but Palace have finished ahead of their rivals from down the M23 in each of the Seagulls’ three seasons in the Premier League. The points margins have been 43-41, 49-36 and 44-40.

Roy Hodgson always make the Eagles a strong defensive unit who are hard to beat and they look to have potential as 6/5 underdogs in this match-up.

 

How many will he score?

The markets indicate how certain players are expected to perform in terms of goals (and assists).

For example, Harry Kane is expected to finish somewhere around the 21-goal mark as he’s 5/6 to score 20 or more and 13/5 to bag 23 or more.

Mo Salah is slightly better rated – he’s 8/11 to score 22 or more and 21/10 to net 25 or more.

However, a better wager looks to be to back Mason Greenwood to shine in 2020/21.

The pacy 18-year-old was in fine form post-lockdown for Manchester United, showing his ability to score from a variety of positions.

He finished the campaign with 17 first-team goals, including 10 in the league, this despite starting just 12 matches.

It will be hard for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to leave him out now – assuming he’s not in quarantine, of course – and the new England cap should be able to hit 12 league goals. He’s 10/11 to do that.

For something bigger, Greenwood is 23/10 to bag 14, which also looks achievable.

Take your pick

It’s en vogue to create your own bet these days and many already have used Betfair’s #OddsOnThat feature.

Manchester City to score in all 38 games is a 10/1 shot which is worth considering after they scored 102 last term. That came on the back of tallies of 95 and 106.

However, a better bet may be to take the 13/8 about all of their games featuring at least one goal. That occurred last season, while only a 0-0 draw at Anfield (the game of the missed Mahrez penalty) prevented it happening in 2018/19.

It’s 16/1 for a repeat of the 2018/19 season for Liverpool and City to both record at least 95 points apiece, while you can get 20/1 about Arsenal and Tottenham continuing their upward trajectory by each registering at least 70 points. Both managed this in 2018/19 before slipping back badly last season.

 

Andy Schooler

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