Premier League Preview and Betting Tips
According to the latest bookmakers' odds, the Premier League title race is down to just four contenders. As at the start of the season, Manchester City are still the favorites to win but the odds have drifted from a one-time 8/13 out to 11/5. Second favorites are Liverpool, who have seen the odds against claiming their first title since 1990 drop sharply from 8/1 at the start of the campaign into 5/2. Third choice is now Chelsea.
The champions of two seasons ago, Chelsea were rated as 6/1 shots with BiggestFreeBets.com and at one time, those odds drifted out to 20/1 after an indifferent spell. Now back in top gear, the London club are close third favorites at just 3/1. Arsenal would appear to be the only other contenders at around the 6/1 mark and the eventual winners are more than likely to come from those four teams.
Manchester City -- Marginal title favorites at 11/5, Manchester City seem to have come a bit unstuck lately. Despite a tremendous 3-1 home win against Barcelona in the Champions League recently, the team have hit a bad patch in the league and have dropped from first to third. It is fair to say that City have hit a sticky patch in terms of league form. Having won the first six matches in a row, Manchester City have managed only one victory in their last five outings with one game ending in defeat and the other three drawn.
Not exactly a crisis, but Pep Guardiola's team can ill-afford to be dropping points with their main title rivals all winning at present. Now two points behind new leaders Liverpool, Manchester City are far from being out of contention, but will need to regain their winning ways and sooner rather than later. Favorites! I don't think so! A top-four finish looks a certainty, but not worth backing at cramped odds of 1/10.
Liverpool -- Second in the betting at around 5/2, Liverpool are, alongside Chelsea, the Premier League form team at present. The Reds have lost just one of 11 games so far, a disappointing 2-0 reverse at newly-promoted Burnley, and the last nine games have seen them win on seven occasions and draw twice. The Pool have already picked up wins at title challengers Arsenal and Chelsea as well as a draw at Tottenham Hotspur and look to have the easiest title run-in at the end of the season with eight very winnable games scheduled.
Top scorers in the Premier League, Liverpool look assured and confident up front and in midfield, but their notorious defense is still a major cause of concern. If the goals keep flowing and the defense can be strengthened, then there is no reason why Jurgen Klopp's team cannot finish top of the pile at the end of the campaign. At odds of 5/2, Liverpool look the best bet for the title in 2016/17 and worth a punt before those odds shorten even further.
Chelsea -- Having suffered successive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal back in September, Chelsea's title hopes looked over and the odds against them winning the title dropped from 5/1 out to 20/1. Five games and five wins later, Chelsea are now as short as 3/1 and understandably so. Those five wins include 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 demolitions of Champions Leicester City, Manchester United, and Everton respectively. Those last five games have seen Chelsea score a whopping 16 goals while conceding none as Antonio Conte's counter-attacking style has taken shape. With Eden Hazard and Diego Costa back to their very best and a solid defense, Chelsea look an excellent bet to finish in the top two if not actually claim the big prize.
Arsenal -- The Gunners are still a bit of an enigma. On their day, they look to be the best all-round football team in the Premier League but are also capable of having an off-day and seriously underperforming. After a poor start to the season, losing at home to Liverpool and drawing away with Leicester City, Arsenal have gotten their act together and are unbeaten in the last nine games, with seven ending in victory. That said, Arsenal have been somewhat fortunate in some of those games and there remains a doubt about the team's reliability. A first title since 2003-04 seems unlikely at present, but a top four finish looks fairly certain but odds of 2/5 are hardly appealing.
The bookies would seem to have called it right and the first four in the betting look set to finish in the top four, but in what order? On present form, it looks set for a showdown between Liverpool and Chelsea and I will side with the Merseysiders to shade the verdict in a very tight finish to the season.