Two Betting Futures to Consider for Upcoming EPL Season
After a largely successful EPL restart that saw Liverpool Football Club finally crowned as champions following a 30-year drought. Norwich, Bournemouth and Watford were relegated, while West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, and finally, Leeds United, make its return to the EPL. Let’s take a look at a couple of futures that may present some value, as well as a play for Opening Day.
West Ham to Finish in the Top 10 (+225)
Given the ever-increasing depth of the EPL, this is a bit of a dangerous game to play, but West Ham deserve some serious consideration here. After a disastrous start to the season, the Hammers brought in David Moyes to once again save them from the threat of relegation. He did the job, in somewhat unspectacular fashion. West Ham earned 20 points in his 19 games in charge, only one more than the team picked up in the 19 games under the previous manager.
However, the manner in which the season unfolded does give some reason for optimism. Moyes and his West Ham side were as good as gone from the EPL after back-to-back losses to begin the restart. However, Moyes hit on a lineup that finally gelled, and closed the season on a 3-3-1 run. This included a quality win against Chelsea, a draw against Manchester United and two wins and a draw against fellow relegation candidates.
The key here is the seeming continuity West Ham have coming into the new EPL season having only had two months off. The shortened preseason could favor teams that ended in good form, and that do not have a ton of turnover from the year before. Importantly, West Ham signed Tomas Soucek after he performed excellently on loan during the end of the campaign. Soucek is a big, physical, but skilled midfielder who may be one of the most underrated at his position in European soccer. His presence, positioning, and eye for goal, helped to tie the midfield together for the Hammers, allowing the likes of attacking winger Jarrod Bowen and rejuvenated Michail Antonio to play their best soccer of the year. At the least, West Ham should be a confident team that is difficult to beat. At best, the continued familiarity will help the talented Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna shore things up on the defensive end. Having Soucek and young star Declan Rice protecting the two central defenders should help a team that conceded a worrying 68 goals last season.
West Ham finished last season on 39 points, and last year’s tenth-place team put up 54. This is a sizable gap, but it’s not beyond Moyes and the Hammers. For starters, even with the team’s brutal start, West Ham ended the year with a goal difference of -13, which was the 13th best in the league. Last season’s 16th place finish is probably not a true reflection of where they stand in this league. Secondly, five of the seven teams who placed from eighth to 14th last season substantially outperformed their Expected Points total. Newcastle United did so by a ridiculous 12.08 points, while the others all gained at least four more points than expected.
As is often the case with West Ham, much of the risk in backing them comes from uncertainty off the field. Captain Mark Noble and fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere voiced their displeasure at the team selling young prospect Grady Diangana to rival West Brom. However, the Hammers and Moyes are used to such things, and West Ham has an average finishing position of 11th in the EPL over the last five years. Rumors are swirling that West Ham could be bringing in towering center-back James Tarkowski from Burnley. If Moyes can get this deal over the line, a price of +225 for a top 10 finish will look like a bargain.
Look for West Ham to continue its strong play during the EPL restart on Opening Day. The Hammers open up against a club in even more turmoil, Newcastle United, who saw the potential sale of the club fall through and reviled owner Mike Ashley remains in charge. Newcastle did do some decent business in the offseason, bringing in Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser from relegated Bournemouth as well as young left-back Jamal Lewis from Norwich. However, it will take time for this team to figure out how it wants to play. Add to that key injuries to fantastic starting goaltender Martin Dubravka and striker Dwight Gayle, and they should be there for the taking. Newcastle is coming off an embarrassing 5-1 preseason loss to lower division Middlesbrough. West Ham are listed at +110 to win at home against Newcastle on Saturday and are certainly worth a look in this spot.
Manchester United to Win the EPL (+1400)
Manchester United will probably not win the EPL this season. However, a price of +1400 still feels like a value play here. United’s season turned completely at the end of January, with the signing of midfield maestro Bruno Fernandes. In addition to being highly productive, with eight goals and seven assists in 14 EPL games, he helped Manchester United regain their swagger and confidence, that has been gone for years following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager. United has yet to lose in the EPL with Bruno Fernandes, putting up eight wins and five ties in his first 13 EPL appearances. 29 points from a possible 39 is a very solid return, and over a full season would see United earn 85 points.
Add in the signing of Dutch youngster Donny Van De Beek to a somewhat thin midfield, and it’s clear to see that this is a team on the rise. United’s point total is currently available at 73.5, and this seems like a steal. There also remains the possibility of Manchester United bringing in young prodigy Jadon Sancho before the end of the transfer window. It’s far from certain, but that possibility alone gives another solid reason to take a chance on United to win the EPL and exceed a point total of 73.5. In terms of the current squad, so many of the key contributors are young that they should be even better this season. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all grew in confidence as the year went on. Their continued development is not a certainty, but seems very likely given that they’ll benefit from a full year with Fernandes, a playmaker of the highest quality.
While Liverpool ran away with the EPL title last season, its 99 point total was a bit of a mirage. He team’s Expected Points total was a mere 74.3, 24.7 points lower than the championship-worthy haul. There has rarely been a better candidate for regression at the top of the EPL standings. Manchester City will of course be a serious threat to the crown, and probably deserve to be favorites for the title. But, there’s less that separates these two Manchester clubs than there has been in years. London clubs Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal are all probably a year away from genuine contention. Chelsea are the most likely of those three to mount a challenge, as they have brought in more talent in the offseason than any team in European soccer. However, managing all that turnover and fitting so many quality attacking players into Chelsea’s lineup could be difficult for second-year manager Frank Lampard. Chelsea should be brilliant at times, but will likely lack the consistency for a genuine title campaign.
United too, is still probably a year away from a true return to its former status as a European power, but at +1400, this price is too good to turn down.