Betting on the 2018/9 English Premier League Winner

| August 6, 2018 12:00 am PDT
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The best European soccer leagues are about to start, and this is great news for all the fans and bettors from around the globe. Being both, I can’t wait for all the games that will be available between now and May.

The English Premier League is one of the first competitions, and it begins this week with Manchester United playing Leicester on Friday night. I already shared my thoughts on the potential winner when the EPL schedule was released.

However, we now have more information about the squads and the styles of each, so I think it’s time for a revision. During this week, I will post my opinion on the most intriguing battles in the 2018-2019 EPL.

I think the most appropriate way to start would be to discuss the title fight and see if there are some interesting betting opportunities.

Of course, there are still a couple of days until the transfer window closes, so you should have that in mind. I will try to include rumors and potential deals in my analysis, but it’s not the same as facts.

That said, let’s take a look at the main contenders and the odds available at the leading soccer betting sites.

Odds Disclaimer 2

Manchester City – Odds of 1.65 to Win Title

I think it’s only appropriate to start with the champions from 2018-2019.

Manchester City was one of the dominant champions in the history of the league and absolutely destroyed the competition, smashing a number of records while doing so.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson, Leroy Sane
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: Riyad Mahrez
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: Yaya Toure

In my opinion, they’ve had the best 25-man squad in the history of the tournament since 2016-2017. Pep Guardiola needed a year to hit the ground running, but the team was absolutely devastating in his second, and it’s hard to find arguments that that won’t be the case in 2018-2019.

It’s not a big surprise to see that Guardiola hasn’t brought in too many new players, with Riyad Mahrez from Leicester being the only notable exception. I believe that the last missing piece that was stopping City for a while was a goalkeeper.

As we saw last year, Ederson is amazing with his feet, and this is crucial for Guardiola’s team. The Brazilian goalie slotted in perfectly and the stupid mistakes from the Spaniard’s first season at the helm were reduced dramatically.

At the same time, the likes of Sane, De Bruyne, Jesus, Aguero, Sterling, and the attacking players were unstoppable last season. All of them remain at the club, so Manchester City once again has the strongest group out there, both in terms of quality and quantity.

This will give Pep Guardiola the chance to rotate in the domestic competition, so the team is in good shape in the Champions League.

Strengths

When you’ve won 100 points from the possible 114, you obviously have a strong team. I’m not quite sure where to begin, but let’s go step by step.

Ederson is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and perfect for City’s style. Last year, he was incredible when it came to playing the ball around with his feet, while also staying focused to prevent the opposition from scoring. I expect more of the same from him, and this is the reason I’ve listed the goalie as one of the key players for City.

Another main strength of the reigning champions is their ability to keep the ball and press the opponent instantly after losing. This approach is pivotal and the cornerstone of Pep Guardiola’s strategy. It allows his teams to control pretty much every game, irrelevant of the opponent.

You could easily see that the manager achieved that with City last year. The system works perfectly well on both ends of the pitch.

By winning the ball high and keeping it for most of the time, City rarely allowed the other teams chances to find the net.

Not only did the champions restrict the chances of their opponents, but they were also capable of creating their own chances almost at will. I expect more of the same this year, and it’s hard to see what could get in the way of Manchester City.

Weaknesses

The English Premier League is one of the most competitive tournaments in the soccer world. Taking anything for granted is probably the biggest mistake a manager could make. I doubt Guardiola will do that anyway, but City is not invincible, and I could see a couple of potential problems.

For a start, the motivation of the team should be kept intact. After winning the league so comprehensively, we could see the squad underrate the competition.

This has happened multiple times in the past, and we’ve seen Manchester City trash everyone else one season and look disinterested in the next one.

Pep Guardiola HAS to make sure his team is up for the fight in 2018-2019.

The other potential issue I see is the priorities. I’m sure Guardiola will be aiming to win all tournaments, especially the English Premier League and the Champions League. But what if the club needs to push hard in both towards the end of the season?

I think Guardiola might be willing to take some risk in the domestic competition, which could decrease his side’s chances to lose.

Finally, a couple of injuries or suspensions to key players could be a problem, but that applies to all other teams as well, even to a higher extent compared to the champions.

Verdict

If Manchester City keeps the same attitude in the English Premier League, the club is an overwhelming favorite. No one team is currently close enough to the reigning champions. And still, I think the price of 1.65 is just about right.

Since Manchester City had some players going deep in the soccer World Cup, I would probably wait and see what happens in the first couple of games. A loss against Arsenal, for example, could boost the price and create a good opportunity to take a higher price.

Liverpool – 5.00

Liverpool is the second favorite if you ask the bookies, and I can certainly see why. Jurgen Klopp has created an exciting style that relies on his favorite gegenpressing.

His team is one of the most direct and efficient in the Premier League, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens this season.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: Alisson, Naby Keita, Fabinho
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: Emre Can

Jurgen Klopp has addressed the main issue with his squad – he bought a world-class goalkeeper. We all know now that Mignolet is not good enough, and the horror show in the Champions League final was enough proof that Karius is not a first-choice option as well.

This is why Liverpool bought the Brazilian number 1 Alisson from Roma. This is an instant upgrade, and I believe he could make a massive difference for Liverpool. It’s curious that the guy became the most expensive keeper in the world after Liverpool spent £60 million to get him, and this created a bit of a situation between Klopp and Mourinho.

The important thing is that Liverpool has a top goalie now. The other two major transfers were designed to strengthen the middle of the park where Liverpool lost solid players like Emre Can (free transfer) and Oxlade-Chamberlain, who’s out until December with an injury.

I think the current squad is stronger compared to the one from last year, but I still have some concerns about the heart of the defense. Virgil Van Dijk is the man that will have to lead the backline to the long-awaited consistency required to mount a true title challenge.

Strengths

The attacking trio of Firmino, Mane, and Salah looks unstoppable. The Egyptian broke the record for the most goals last year and is one of the favorites for the Ballon d’Or. If those guys hit similar heights, Liverpool will once again be formidable.

On top of that, Jurgen Klopp’s side is one of the most impressive ones when it comes to the work rate of every single player.

Liverpool’s players are constantly moving without the ball and create an advantage in numbers all over the pitch. There’s no reason to believe we won’t see more of the same this year.

Finally, Klopp has once again proven that he is very good at developing players. Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made huge steps last year. We could see other youngsters impress under the German manager, which provides solid depth.

Weaknesses

The goalkeeper problem Liverpool had seems to be gone, which was the main issue last year. However, the defense has yet to convince me that it has enough consistency to win the title. If we know one thing about the league, it’s that you can’t simply rely on outscoring your opponents every single game.

You need to keep a clean sheet often enough, and this is the area where Liverpool needs to improve. The big question is if the central defenders will do the job. I like Virgil Van Dijk, and I think he is a gifted player.

However, I’m not quite convinced that he’s the typical leader at the back that you need at the top level.

The likes of Lovren, Klavan, and Matip have been inconsistent, and at least one among them will have to step up if Liverpool is going to fight for the title.

The last recognizable weakness in this squad is related to the style of Klopp. The hard work he demands from his players is certainly a big plus. However, it comes with certain downsides.

We’ve often seen his players fatigue at certain points of the season, so strength in depth is required.

Does Liverpool really have the squad to play such a gruesome style for the whole campaign, especially if you consider that the team will be involved in the UEFA Champions League as well? I’m not 100% confident, and I think that Liverpool will lose some points because of that.

Verdict

Winning the league might be out of Liverpool’s reach just yet. Under normal circumstances, the team is certainly strong enough to compete. However, Man City set some high standards last year, and the title seems theirs to lose.

Still, if the reigning champions are not on the same level, Liverpool seems like one of the teams that might take an advantage. The price of 5.00 for that to happen is probably about right, and there’s not much value there, so I will abstain.

Manchester United – 6.50

Considering all the money Jose Mourinho has spent since joining Manchester United in 2016, you would expect the team to be higher on the list of favorites for the title. The Red Devils finished second last season, but they have failed to come close to their noisy neighbors.

There are many indications that this will be a decisive season for Mourinho, and he needs to win a major trophy to keep his place. The friendlies have been rough, there are plenty of squad members that will come back to the team late because of the World, and Jose is already complaining.

But is he genuine or simply playing mind games? Let’s take a look at what we know at this point.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Romelu Lukaku
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: Fred, Diogo Dalot
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: Daley Blind

I think that Manchester United’s squad has been very strong for the past two seasons, but Jose Mourinho’s personal style of management simply can’t make enough of the current group of players. The Portuguese is best when it comes to taking the maximum from mature players in their prime.

When it comes to developing youngsters, especially creative ones, he’s not that good. Simply look at the way he treated players like De Bruyne and Salah in the past. They are currently two of the EPL’s best attackers, but they couldn’t get anything going under Mourinho.

The likes of Pogba, Martial, and Rashford are in a similar position. They were excellent before they started working with the Portuguese, but they have declined since. I don’t think this will change dramatically this year, and Martial could actually be sold.

The big question is if Mourinho will manage to somehow unite his squad (pun intended). If he does, he has all the tools for a legitimate title bid, despite his constant complaints.

Strengths

Manchester United has one of the best goalkeepers in the league in David de Gea and a strong defense. This is hardly a surprise since Mourinho’s known for building resilient teams.

Even the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City will struggle to score against Manchester United.

On top of that, United has a plethora of attacking talent, at least paper. Lukaku was good last season, and the likes of Mata, Alexis, Rashford, Lingard, and Martial could all improve to provide the attacking platform required to win the title.

And of course, let’s not forget hard-working midfielders like the new boy Fred, Paul Pogba, and Ander Herrera. They should be able to both provide enough protection for the defense and chances for the offensive line.

Weaknesses

I already mentioned the main problem with Manchester United and the key to their success. Can Mourinho get the best out of players like Pogba, Martial, Rashford, and co.?  He has failed to do so since arriving, and the initial signs were not good for Alexis Sanchez, either.

The Portuguese manager has the nasty habit of blaming his players when things are not going his team’s way, and this could undermine the relationship with the squad.

I have a feeling a Mourinho meltdown could happen, as United has a lot of problems before the season starts.

United has players who are behind with their preparation for the season, and there’s tension in the club. The supporters are also divided, not only because of the lack of success last year but because of Mourinho’s defensive playing style.

Verdict

I think the start of the season is the key for Manchester United. There’s enough pressure already on all fronts. Some of the players are not happy, Mourinho doesn’t seem happy, and many fans are unsatisfied too.

A couple of weak matches and it could get ugly fast. This is why I don’t like the chances of Manchester United to win the league, despite the solid price of 6.50. There’s simply not enough cohesion and harmony in this squad.

Chelsea – 13.00

Of all the clubs in the hunt for the EPL title, I feel Chelsea is the biggest enigma so far for a couple of reasons. For a start, they have a new coach in Maurizio Sarri. He’s a solid guy who did well in Napoli, but being new in England is always a challenge.

On top of that, we don’t know what will happen with the likes of Courtois and Hazard. Both players are vital for the club, and if they go without the proper replacements, it could be a disaster. This is why I recommend that you follow Chelsea in the next couple of days.

And yet, here’s how things stand right now.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, David Luiz
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: Jorginho, Michy Batshuayi
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: None

As it stands, Chelsea’s squad is quite similar to the one from last year. Sure, they got a new defensive midfielder in Jorginho, and Batshuayi is returning after his loan spell, but I can’t say that will change the situation dramatically.

The biggest problem last year was finding a working formula up front and the lack of depth at times. The latter remains to an extent, but a lack of Champions League action is a massive advantage when it comes to the English Premier League.

Sarri could easily rotate and keep his players fresh, especially in the group stages. This is one of the main reasons behind the rather passive window so far, but this could change in the next couple of days.

An ongoing deal for Courtois, Hazard, or both would lead to the domino effect, and I can easily see Chelsea working on some last-minute replacements.

Strengths

The already-mentioned lack of Champions League soccer next season is huge, in my opinion, so I think this will give Chelsea the opportunity to rotate much better than the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, and the Manchester clubs.

On top of that, they still have a good squad all around the pitch, if it is not too stretched during the season. The January transfer of Olivier Giroud improved the attack, as he has a good understanding with Hazard and provided competition for Alvaro Morata.

The likes of Hazard, Willian, and Fabregas are more than capable of both scoring and creating chances, while the defense remains balanced. After all, the backbone of the current squad is built around the same players who won the title not so long ago.

Weaknesses

The lack of depth remains a weakness despite the lack of CL, as one or two injuries could create a lot of problems for the team.

If Hazard and Willian are gone at the same time, the creativity would suffer dramatically.

The other problem is the uncertainty at this point. What happens with the new coach? What happens with the squad? Does Hazard stay, and will he be happy and perform? There are too many questions, and this bothers me. This is not a weakness by itself, but the competition right now is too strong.

Verdict

I’m really tempted by the price of 13.00, and it looks solid for a club that won the title two years ago with a similar squad, especially since there is no Champions League. I’m almost tempted to recommend a little bet on Chelsea, but I think I prefer to wait.

Let’s see what happens in the next couple of days and see where Chelsea stands once the business is done and soccer is underway.

Tottenham – 17.00

Tottenham fans were certainly happy to see the progress of the club under Mauricio Pochettino, as the manager has done wonders in the past couple of years. The exciting, disciplined team he has built is certainly a threat.

However, the same supporters will be shocked by the lack of transfers this summer. Tottenham failed to sign even a single player, and that’s always a big deal. Sure, the team is strong, and there is still time, but this is not good enough.

Here’s how I see Tottenham’s chances right now.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: None
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: None

Well, it’s hard to say something revolutionary when Tottenham hasn’t changed their personnel one bit, isn’t it? We all know that Harry Kane is the main man here, but outside of that, it’s mostly about teamwork.

Mauricio Pochettino has installed a compact approach that allows the Spurs to both attack and defend efficiently. The transition between the two is seamless thanks to the good cohesion in the team. To an extent, that’s one of the reasons the lack of transfers is not that bad.

However, the Spurs do lack depth, and there are rumors they could lose the likes of Alderweireld and Danny Rose. They have to sign someone if that’s the case, and I can’t see them fighting for the title without any new transfers.

Strengths

The most obvious strength of Tottenham is called Harry Kane. The striker is lethal, and if he’s fit, we all know that he will score somewhere in the region of 25-30 goals in the English Premier League alone. This is vital for the team, but it’s not only about Kane.

The most vital piece in this club right now is the manager.

Pochettino is absolutely amazing, and he has managed to improve pretty much every player under his guidance so far. This is the biggest hope for this Tottenham team.

His system is built around a lot of running and hard work. The players are more than willing to do their job, which is the reason Tottenham has improved so dramatically in the past couple of years.

Weaknesses

Despite all the hard work of Pochettino, there’s a certain moment when you simply have to invest to reach the highest level. Tottenham is not quite there yet, and the lack of activity this summer has left them even further behind.

They can’t compete with the squad depth of the two Manchester clubs. I would put them somewhere around Chelsea in this regard. However, the Spurs are in the Champions League, which is a negative when it comes to the EPL.

I think this will be their main problem, and I expect Tottenham to stay close to the top, but the lack of enough world-class players will be obvious when the likes of Kane and Alli are not at their best.

Verdict

The price for Tottenham is really high, but as it stands, I don’t think the team has the chance to win the English Premier League. I can’t recall a case when a club didn’t buy anyone and then went on to win the competition.

And yet, there a couple of days left until the end of the transfer window. A couple of good buys could elevate the Spurs and make a price of 17.00 viable, so I won’t write them off just yet.

Arsenal – 22.00

Many would argue that Arsenal is not a realistic contender, and I could see why. They haven’t been for a couple of years, and the most successful manager in the entire history of the club is now gone. This would be enough to expect a team to be left behind.

And yet, Arsene Wenger has been past it for a couple of years, according to most people, and the new manager, Unai Emery, is a stand-out guy. He has addressed many of the issues of his squad almost immediately, and the fans will certainly stay behind the team.

Let’s take a look.

The Squad

  • Key Players: Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Torreira
  • Notable Incoming Transfers: Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Matteo Guendouzi
  • Notable Outgoing Transfers: Jack Wilshere

As you could see, Emery has been busy this summer and immediately bought a bunch of players. Almost all of them are with predominately defensive duties, and I feel Arsenal has needed them for a long time.

The aggressive Sokratis should instantly replace the injured skipper Koscielny, while Lichtsteiner could push Hector Bellerin to a new level while doing his own thing on the pitch as well.

Lucas Torreira has the potential to become the defensive midfielder Arsenal so desperately needed, and many believe Leno will be one of the best goalkeepers in the world soon.

At the same time, Arsenal won’t compete in the Champions League this season and didn’t lose any of the other players. The likes of Aubameyang, Ozil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, and Lacazette provide an exceptional basis up front, and Emery decided to build around them.

Strengths

It’s hard to determine the strengths of this team before we see how the new manager and the new players fit in. Still, I think that Arsenal has more than enough depth to compete in the Premier League. They have enough players on each position, bar probably the defensive part of the midfield.

On top of that, the players up front are no joke. I would say that Ozil and Auba are easily world-class, with the likes of Ramsey, Lacazette, and Mkhitaryan very close behind.

If you add a couple of young players into the mix, Arsenal has the potential to be deadly.

On top of that, almost none of the Arsenal players stayed at the soccer World Cup for too long. Some didn’t play, and others were eliminated early on. As a result, the squad will be prepared well for the start of the season.

Weaknesses

The most obvious problem with Arsenal is that the club will be in a transitional year. Replacing Arsene Wenger and bringing in so many new players may look promising to the supporters, but good teams are not built overnight.

I think that Unai Emery and the management know that. The club will count on a bunch of new players at the back, and this could lead to various problems. For me, it remains Arsenal’s biggest weakness, but Emery could fix it if given enough time.

Outside of that, I don’t see any major issues with the squad, especially since there will be no Champions League soccer.

Verdict

I think the price of Arsenal is good, and 22.00 is probably worth a shot with a tiny bet. The main reason behind that is the good preparation for the new season.

Emery might be new to the Premier League, but he got his transfers early and has started working with what looks like his full squad way earlier than the other managers.

If the Gunners are off to a flying start, you never know. The supporters will certainly have hope after a couple of agonizing years under Wenger, and hope is a powerful thing.

Final Words

I will wrap this up by saying that it makes sense to bet on two of the current clubs. Manchester City is simply too strong to ignore, despite the relatively low price of 1.65.

The side was head and shoulders above any other team, and there’s no reason to believe this will change dramatically.

The other club is Arsenal, as the squad looks better than last year, and the price of 22.00 is simply too high when you look at the players Emery has at his disposal.

On top of that, the fan base should be united after a couple of years in which many have lost faith.

Of course, a couple of days could mean a lot, especially at the end of the transfer window. This is why I recommend that you keep your eyes open for any major news that could change the landscape in English soccer.

Jerry Summer
Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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