This season’s Premier League table is only in its embryonic stages yet already the race for the title is a mouth-watering prospect and provokes much debate.
It is undoubtedly the year of the manager – serial winners Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are the new sheriffs in town, pitting their wits against Mauricio Pochettino, Arsene Wenger and last year’s ultimate underdog, Claudio Ranieri. There are new managers too at top-half hopefuls Southampton, Everton and Watford, adding even more intrigue into proceedings.
Much of the early focus is on Manchester. Both City and United finished last season with domestic silverware but it was ultimately a season of disappointment as the club’s finished 4th and 5th, both finishing 15 points off the pace of champions Leicester.
The two clubs have gone all out this summer in order to ensure that the balance of power is not only restored to the city but that their club ends up with the Premier League trophy come May. Both moved quickly to appoint box-office managers widely recognised as the most successful in the modern era, with both set to recommence the engaging and often poisonous rivalry that marked their spells in charge at Barcelona and Real Madrid. The two clubs have also invested heavily – their combined spending has fallen just short of £300 million, no other clubs have rivalled these outlays.
United broke the world transfer record to seal a sensational return to the club for Paul Pogba, who joins the free-scoring Zlatan Ibrahimovic, creative Henrikh Mkhitaryan and bullish defender Eric Bailly. City have also been busy with John Stones, Leroy Sane, Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan among their summer recruits.
Betting Exchange Matchbook makes Guardiola’s men slight favourites ahead of Mourinho’s side at the time of writing, with the odds stating that both clubs may prove too strong for the other contenders to the throne.
But what of the challenge from the capital? Arsenal pipped Tottenham to last season’s runners-up spot on the final day, while 2015 champions Chelsea are determined to put last season’s nightmarish title defence behind them.
The Blues appointment of Italian boss Conte has led to great excitement at Stamford Bridge. The 47-year-old won Serie A in each of his three seasons in charge at Juventus, including an undefeated season and breaking the 100 points barrier in Italy. His unquenchable desire to win and an unbeatable work ethic ensures that the West Londoners are third favourites at Betting Exchange Matchbook. However, with N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi the only first-team additions thus far, a title challenge with their ageing defence may be beyond them.
Arsenal have made a slow start to their league campaign, with pessimism at the club only fuelled by another summer without significant transfer activity and an early-season injury crisis to their defence. Granit Xhaka will add further steel to their midfield but doubts persist over their defence and lack of options up front, meaning that a repeat of last season’s runners-up spot appears unlikely.
Betting Exchange Matchbook offers tempting odds on Tottenham winning their first league title in 55 years. They offered a strong title challenge last year, only falling out of the reckoning in the final weeks. They have signed Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama and Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, and may be worth an outside bet from their stability and consistency.
Liverpool, who finished 8th last year, are placed as fifth favourites at time of writing at Betting Exchange Matchbook. An early victory at Arsenal was enthralling but was followed-up by a substandard performance at Burnley, hinting that their ambitions for the year ahead may be limited to a top-four challenge rather than a title tilt.
Whilst odds of 5000/1 are now a thing of the past after last season’s heroics, Leicester offering a repeat of their sensational title win appear remote and they come in at seventh to retain their title. They have lost N’Golo Kante but have splashed out on replacement Nampalys Mendy and highly-rated forward Ahmed Musa, but if you believe in lightning striking twice, check out Betting Exchange Matchbook’s tempting offer.