Golden Boot Taking the head of the market we have at the time of writing: (four places 1/4 are the each-way terms)
Taking these leading contenders one by one, during Kane’s breakthrough season in 2014-15 he scored 21, following it with 25, 29, and 30. Obviously a worthy favourite
Salah’s 32 goals in 36 appearances was a phenomenal return last season. nLiverpool’s high-pressing and counter-attacking at pace suited the Egyptian but this is “the difficult second season”.
Lukaku’s 16 goals in 34 appearances in his first year at United was his poorest return in front of goal since 2014-15 in a side with a rather humdrum style.
Aguero has four consecutive seasons of 20+ Premier League goals totalling 91 goals in 119 appearances. Last season he scored 21 in 25 league matches with rotation with Gabriel Jesus a feature. If he can get a full 38 game season under his belt then obviously 8-1 is a steal – he’s gone off sub 5/1 in each of the last two seasons. This is his last season at City, and whilst a signing in either transfer window could see him share yet more time he should begin first choice in front of De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Mane, Bernardo and Mahrez (pick any three) and that bodes well.
Aubameyang adapted quickly to the Premier League with 10 goals in 13 games after moving to Arsenal in January. Those 10 goals scored in a misfiring Arsenal side which was the proud possessor of the worst away record in the top five tiers of English football at one point. Unai Emery will bring a more familiar formation and tactical plan for Aubameyang, preferring the high pressing game he was used to in the Bundesliga. He has an average of a goal every 115 minutes since the beginning of the 2015-16 season across his two leagues.
At the prices, getting four spots the place terms, I think Aguero and Aubameyang are the value
Looking outside the front of the market
Raheem Sterling might seem an odd one after we’ve spent the summer wishing he could finish in goal-scoring situations for England but this is a player who scored 18 in 33 Premier League games last season and 23 in 46 overall. The key point being that the players providing for hm at City have a greater range of passing than the England midfielders and usually playing as a support striker he is on the end (usually at the far post) of a lot of opportunities created by KDB, Silva and now others like Mahrez.
In terms of XG (per 90 minutes) last season he was 6th behind Aguero, Jesus, Kane, Salah and Aubameyang. The clincher is that Sterling is 66/1 with Bet365 and its 14/1 or less the top five mentioned. City scored 106 goals last season, there will be plenty to go round this and I can’t see why they would be any less prolific
Sergio Aguero 15/2 1/4 1,2,3,4 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power 7/1 Bet365
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 15/2 1/4 1,2,3,4 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power 7/1 Bet365
Raheem Sterling 66/1 1/4 1,2,3,4 Bet365 (40/1 generally)
Top Half Finish
The promoted sides seem a sensible place to start here when looking for value. In Wolves and Fulham especially you have players coming into the division such as Sessegnon, Seri, Cairney, Neves, Jota, Moutinho and Rui Patricio that would go straight into current top half sides and in some cases top six sides.
Of course Wolves, with the Portuguese links and spending, are already a warm order at 11/10 for a top half finish. Not too much to go at there.
Fulham at 6/1 with Bet365 is a different matter. I don’t think essentially there is too much between two of the three promoted sides (Cardiff probably the exception) and the sides that finished 11th to 17th last year and much like Brighton last year, who finished close to the top half at a nice price, Fulham are value to do so this time round. I am assuming they sign Mitrovic.
Burnley at 4/1 are an interesting case. For a side that finished seventh last year, ten points clear of the bottom half. the price factors in amore mixed league performance no doubt in part because of the demands of the early rounds of the Europa League though in terms of travel they at least start well, Aberdeen and home and away isn’t going to disrupt pre-season plans too much.
Burnley are also a side where the analytics don’t especially appeal with poor XGS and 36 goals scored in 38 league games and an XGA worse than the 39 goals they did concede last season. However Burnley have outperformed XG for two years now, and I wouldn’t be rushing to oppose them on that basis ahead of this season. The squad is intact and for me they are shorter than 4-1 to finish in the top half.
Fulham to finish top half 6/1 Bet365
Burnley to finish top half 4/1 William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral
Looking at the shape of the current market first
Crystal Palace 6/1
The first thing that struck me when looking through the list was that I didn’t like Fulham, Brighton or Burnley to go down at all, and that’s three of the six favourites!
I don’t really want to take odds on about Cardiff for a nine month bet and whilst I can see the case for Huddersfield (16th place last year four clear of the relegation zone, scoring only 28 league goals all season) I think there might be better value elsewhere
Watford were a possibility, a lack of consistency over recent years means that it would not come as a great surprise if they were dragged into a relegation scrap this time around but 2/1 factors that in to an extent. After thinking about Crystal Palace and Newcastle and discarding both, wondering about Leicester, not getting as far as wondering about West Ham (after their squad investment) and Wolves I was left with the following:
It is a big season for Bournemouth. Of course Eddie Howe has helped them outperform their “size” for several seasons and is destined for a bigger opportunity. Bournemouth finished 12th last year thanks to late season form that pulled them away from the bottom six where they had sat for much of the season.
Bankrolled by a Russian owner, such funds are a pre-requisite for survival in this division in a ground that only holds 11,450. Then by chance I spotted this in the off-season in the local paper
“Highly-respected coach John Yems, who has been with Howe and his assistant Jason Tindall for the last six years, has been told the club can no longer afford to keep him. Yems, 58, has been Bournemouth’s football operations manager and, despite Howe fighting to keep him, the Premier League club told him it was for financial reasons. Bournemouth’s players have returned to pre-season with some shocked that Yems has left.”
To date this summer the club are marginal negative net spenders (2017-18 season summer transfer window, net spend of £30m) in a division where two of the three promoted clubs and the likes of West Ham and Brighton are re-tooling.
5-1 to go down is an interesting price as we see how the situation develops. Were Howe to be tempted to leave, it would be an outstanding price
Mark Hughes arrived at Southampton at the back end of last season, and helped them to just survive, safe on the penultimate weekend of last season. The effect of that and £45m net investment over the summer has led to the expectation of a mid table finish and relegation odds of 8-1.
In the eight games after Hughes took over they lost their first three (West Ham, Arsenal and Chelsea) then achieved two wins and two draws from their last five games, the wins coming against Bournemouth and Swansea
The eight games under Hughes spoke to the issue the side had all season, scoring goals (37 in 38 games, top scorer Austin with 7) with 8 goals in those games. I see this being a problem again this year. What Hughes did manage to do after his difficult initial games was stem the tide of goals against and in the last five games they conceded three goals. That is likely to be their strength again this season. That alone though is not going to mean that 8-1 isn’t a value relegation price
Bournemouth to be relegated 5-1 Betfred, Paddy Power
Southampton to be relegated 8-1 William Hill, Sky Bet