The 2017-18 Premier League season is starting to take shape, painting a clearer picture for fans and pundits alike to form their opinions, with key battles at both ends of the table giving an early indication of who could lift the title next May, or who could be tumbling towards relegation.
Looking beyond the league table and team performances, there are plenty of individual players catching the eye already this season, proving they are vital components in the hopes and aspirations of their teams, who could be in the running for prestigious individual honours.
As we head towards November and with the level of competition as fierce as ever, every goal, every killer pass, every Man of the Match performance; all can make the difference towards success or failure, as we look at the key movers and shakers so far this season in the outright markets.
The Title Race
Manchester City might be leading the Premier League race in thrilling fashion and are already clear 2/5 favourites in mid-October, but just like their famous fans Noel and Liam Gallagher once sang with Oasis, ‘Some Might Say’ that with less than a quarter of the campaign played, it’s still far too early to draw any foregone conclusions.
Pep Guardiola’s side are playing phenomenally, dominating opponents with both style and substance, creatively tearing apart defences and scoring lots of goals, whilst also remaining solid at the back.
However, across town and still within touching distance at the Premier League summit, Jose Mourinho and Manchester United at appetising 4/1 odds for the title cannot be ignored, and although the Red Devils don’t perhaps have the same depth to their squad, their battle for supremacy against City will remain constant.
Although they are the reigning champions, Chelsea just haven’t reproduced their consistent form of last season. With odds lengthening to 16/1 and already nine points off the pace after the first eight games of the campaign, manager Antonio Conte is far from happy and there’s also speculation surrounding his future at Stamford Bridge.
The strongest contender to break the Manchester duopoly this season appears to be Tottenham Hotspur. Although their odds are lengthy at 14/1 for the title, there are still plenty of twists and turns to come this season and Mauricio Pochettino’s side are the best positioned of the chasing pack, should the leaders slip at any moment.
Perhaps the surprise package of the season so far is Watford FC. Fourth in the table after eight games, they might remain 750/1 rank outsiders for the title and 80/1 for a top-four finish, they’re certainly worth keeping an eye on as a longshot option for the latter, especially given the inconsistency of other sides in the top half of the table and their habit for last-minute wins.
Having already won the Premier League Golden Boot for the last two seasons running, Harry Kane remains the tip of the lance for Tottenham Hotspur and at 8/5 odds, he is priceless for his team’s growing ambitions and the favourite to retain the award. Given his consistency both for club and country, in domestic competition or the Champions League, the 24-year-old is maturing into one of the best strikers in Europe.
Romelu Lukaku has taken to his summer move from Everton to Manchester United with aplomb. Up until the 0-0 bore draw against Liverpool at Anfield, the towering Belgian had scored in every game and leads the Premier League scoring charts. At 3/1 and as the main focal point for United attacks, he should get plenty more goals if he keeps getting the excellent service from the creative players around him.
With three strikers already having registered six Premier League goals amongst their ranks, Manchester City certainly aren’t short of firepower. Raheem Sterling is considered an outside bet at lengthy odds of 33/1 for the Golden Boot, with Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus both at 6/1 odds considered the best challengers.
Either of the two would be a good bet for the award at these odds, given the flood of goals from Guardiola’s side.
For strikers to demonstrate their firepower often enough, they need a consistent supply of ammunition, and Manchester City are blessed with an abundance of creativity to keep feeding the forward line.
David Silva currently leads the Premier League charts for assists after eight games and at 3/1 odds he’s fancied to stay there. However, his teammate Kevin De Bruyne with five assists already, is by far the outright favourite at 5/4 and his killer passing has been a joy to behold.
In the battle for the Premier League title and if Manchester United are to keep in the race, the early season form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be priceless. The Armenian international has contributed five assists in his first eight league games of the season and at 5/2 odds, he is expected to carry on cracking open stubborn rival defences for his team.
For an assist to count, of course, the recipient also has to hit the back of the net. This leads to the tempting outside option of Newcastle United midfielder Matt Ritchie at 40/1, who has already notched up an impressive four assists in eight games by mid-October.
He will continue to feed his forward line well throughout the season, but how high he ranks will ultimately depend on those ahead of him taking those chances he provides.
PFA Player of the Year
De Bruyne has been in stellar form for City so far, so it’s hardly surprising to see the supremely talented Belgian as the 7/4 888sport favourite and top tip for this season’s award, but with plenty of the season yet to be played, there’s plenty of times for others to win the votes of their peers.
Harry Kane fancied at 5/1 odds and Romelu Lukaku at 10/1 are the next favourites, and both are good value options, but there are some interesting outside tips well worth considering, such as Nemanja Matic at 33/1 or David Silva at 20/1 and both performing admirably. N’Golo Kante was last year’s winner, although at 40/1 odds, he isn’t considered to be in the running this time around.
PFA Young Player of the Year
Based on his exceptional form so far, Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City is the clear favourite at 6/5 for the 2017-18 award, but he will face stiff competition for the end of season award. His teammate Raheem Sterling is fancied to his impressive start to the campaign as a 5/1 option, whilst Manchester United rival Marcus Rashford continues to shine when given his opportunities by Jose Mourinho.
Dele Alli has won the award for the last two seasons running, so he certainly can’t be ruled out of completing a hat-trick this season. At 7/1 he’s a good option to consider and winning the award yet again would be a particularly impressive achievement. Why? Since the award began in the 1973-74 season, nobody has won it more than twice.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*