Kevin de Bruyne to be PFA Player of the Year – 16/1 (various)
I actually got De Bruyne at 20/1 last week, but at 16s I still think he represents decent value. The simple fact is that there are six players available at a shorter price to be PFA Player of the Year, and I don’t think there are six better players.
The Player of the Year award has been won by a title winner in each of the last three seasons, which is enough for me to ignore players from Tottenham at shorter prices than De Bruyne. It hasn’t been won by a player in his first season in England at any point during the Premier League era, which is enough for me to ignore Alvaro Morata at a shorter price too. That leaves Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba, with one of those struggling with injury and another potentially leaving before September.
Pogba is a great price at 8/1, but De Bruyne is potentially the best player in potentially the best team. He got more assists than any other player last season, and is the only member of Manchester City’s front five who is truly guaranteed their starting place.
Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea to be the top three in that order – 25/1 (Bet365)
Very much a question of picking your weapon here, but I do like the tricast market and Bet 365 have better odds almost across the board. The outright winner market has the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea significantly shorter than the rest, with City now clear favourites.
The trouble is, City are 15/8 and so offer little value even if you think they will lift the title. Those of you who believe they will win can increase those odds ten-fold by picking United to finish second and Chelsea third. Swap those two round for 28/1, and if you fancy United to finish above City and Chelsea third, you can get 33s.
Man Utd to be top at the end of August – 16/5 (Paddy Power)
An interesting market offered by only a few bookmakers is for the team to be top of the table at the end of August, which is intriguing because each team actually only plays three matches before September. I like the odds of better than 3/1 on ManU to win that market, given their opening fixtures of West Ham at home, Swansea away and Leicester at home. Bizarrely, the only other club I would consider are Southampton at 14/1. They have Swansea (h), West Ham (h) and Huddersfield (a) as their first three games.
Mark Hughes first manager to leave their post – 4/1 (various)
Four managers are available at shorter than 10/1 odds: Craig Shakespeare, Slaven Bilic, Rafael Benitez and Hughes. Of those four, I have no interest in Shakespeare and have just picked West Ham to finish eighth.
That leaves Benitez and Hughes, the first and second favourites in the market at 4/1.
There are reasons to go for Benitez, but only from his point of view rather than the club’s.
Should Mike Ashley back him in the final weeks of the window then all may be well again, so I’m happy to give him a miss.
That leaves Hughes, who has only beaten West Ham, Stevenage, Sunderland, Hull, Swansea, Watford, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Southampton in all competitions in the last 16 months, and is quickly losing goodwill at Stoke.
All I’m saying is that their first three home games are against Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea, and it’s not until December 2 until they play a home game against a team who finished below them last season.
West Ham to win the league (without the ‘big seven’) – 5/1 (Betway)
I picked Leicester to finish eighth in my season preview, so you would think that I can’t back down now.
Still, I’ve always been a weasel and a quitter. The ‘win without the big seven’ market allows for the fact that bookmakers expect Everton to again be caught in their league of one, and could be one of those season bets that actually keeps you interested into the new year.
Leicester are actually the second favourites behind Southampton, with West Ham the only other club under 15/2.
Next come Stoke, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Newcastle in that order, which I have no interest in whatsoever.
It’s either West Ham at 5/1 or Leicester at 7/2, and on the prices I have to go West Ham. Since the start of 2017 they have added Robert Snodgrass, Jose Fonte, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez to the squad.
If Hernandez can fire, betting at one-in-six odds to finish on top of the mid-table pack looks generous.
Alexandre Lacazette to be the Premier League’s top scorer – 12/1 (various)
All bookmakers are offering quarter odds for four places each way on the top Premier League scorer, so I’m tempted enough to look for a longer price than the 3/1 on Harry Kane and 4/1 on Romelu Lukaku.
Two Manchester City players come next in the betting, but the possible rotation between them makes me uneasy.
The only other player shorter than Lacazette is Alvaro Morata, but he may well take time to settle into Antonio Conte’s system and demands.
With that in mind, I’m going for Lacazette at 12/1. Olivier Giroud scored 12 goals in fewer than 1,200 minutes last season, so we know Arsenal strikers will get chances to score.
Even if Sanchez stays – having scored 24 times last season – he will allow Lacazette to take some of the burden for scoring Arsenal’s goals from his shoulders. Since 2010, you have needed to score an average of 18 goals in order to finish in the top four scorers in the Premier League (and thus earn the each way odds).
Effectively betting on Lacazette at better than 2/1 to do that, with the bonus if he is top scorer, is good enough for me.
Brighton to finish bottom – 8/1 (Blacktype)
I’m not convinced that Brighton will finish bottom of the Premier League, but at the odds offered I can’t ignore them.
Even if you consider it as nip and tuck between Brighton and Huddersfield, one is priced as short as 7/4 and the other 8/1.
Given Huddersfield’s spending and Brighton’s comparatively quiet window, that seems odd.
In fact the 8/1 on Brighton is longer than some bookmakers are offering on Burnley, Watford and Swansea to finish bottom, which again seems odd. Brighton are in their first top-flight season and are largely sticking with their Championship squad.