Predicted league tables are everywhere in the build up to a new season. Getting 20 teams in the correct spots is near impossible, of course, but that doesn’t stop us all thinking we know exactly where everyone will finish come May.
The Premier League’s standings were hard to predict last season, they might be even trickier this year. Outside the top six, it feels like teams could finish anywhere. Within the top six, it’s going to be tight.
Matchup betting is one way to narrow it down to just a couple of teams. Simply, which one will finish higher. Here are a few thoughts on the market…
LEICESTER CITY vs WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Having lost Riyad Mahrez this summer, Leicester are 7/10 to finish above newly promoted Wolves. The squad at Molineux is strong, particularly having added Joao Moutinho to the midfield this summer.
Leicester have retained Harry Maguire, while bringing in James Maddison, Jonny Evans and Ricardo Pereira. It’s been a decent summer for Claude Puel, but the poor second half of last season is cause for concern.
Both of these teams should be somewhere in mid-table. They’re two of the trickiest clubs to call this year. Either could get sucked into a relegation scrap but could just as easily finish in the top eight.
Wolves are understandably underdogs in this one having just been promoted. The Evens price on the Championship winners to finish above their fellow Midlanders looks good.
ARSENAL vs MANCHESTER UNITED
Arsenal and Manchester United’s rivalry has waned in recent years. The decline of the Gunners, retirement of Alex Ferguson (and now Arsene Wenger) and rise of the rest of the top six has contributed to that. We may see it return in 2018/19, however.
Jose Mourinho is on the cusp of his traditional third season meltdown, while Unai Emery has brought a wave of new positivity to the Emirates. Arsenal got their summer business done early and have had time to work together in preseason.
Mourinho is still complaining about transfers, and United will have the Champions League distraction to cope with, while the Gunners are likely to rest their first teamers during the Europa League group stage.
Arsenal are out at 2/1 to finish above Mourinho’s men this season. The form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season and Mourinho’s comments in preseason make that great value.
CRYSTAL PALACE vs WEST HAM UNITED
West Ham are optimistic again. Sure, it’s happened before, but it’s meant to be different this time.
The Hammers have spent heavily this summer, Manuel Pellegrini has been able to make significant attacking additions in Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko along with the arrival of Jack Wilshere on a free.
Roy Hodgson looks set to keep hold of Wilfried Zaha. With Zaha, the Eagles should be comfortable in mid-table. If they were to lose him, though, Palace are relegation candidates, even after the arrivals of Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer.
West Ham are a very short 1/2 to get the better of this matchup. West Ham being West Ham means that isn’t great value. Palace at 7/5 could be a good price if Hodgson keeps Zaha and can add a couple more players before the window shuts.
CHELSEA vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
It’s been all change at Chelsea again. The Stamford Bridge hierarchy finally hired Maurizio Sarri, despite keeping Antonio Conte at the club for longer than anyone expected.
The Blues have managed to keep hold of Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois for now but are likely to be active before the window shuts.
Tottenham have made no signings yet this summer. It’s a mystery if they will add anyone at all. Spurs have defied expectations repeatedly in recent seasons but going into this season with the same squad as last is a risk.
With no extra depth, the strain of the Champions League will be felt harder than ever, particularly with several key players having played in the World Cup knockout rounds.
This one is split with both teams at 17/20. Chelsea are an unknown quantity this season, but if they keep Hazard, they look just about the better bet in this one.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*