The 14th of August – the beginning of the end for relationships all over Britain as the English Premiership season starts. Girlfriends and wives can kiss goodbye to their partners as they embark on a ten-month love affair with the Premiership and the wealth of talent on show. It all kicks off at White Hart Lane, where last season’s 4th placed team, Tottenham Hotspur take on Manchester City. And can I wait for 12:45GMT? Of course I can’t!
So, this English Premiership preview will highlight all the teams, tell you the best prices and try and help you find the value for the beginning of the English Premiership season. Roll on August 14th!
Last season: 3rd.
Arsenal, the perennial bridesmaids of the English Premiership and once again under the leadership of Arsene Wenger. Arsenal has brought in Koscienly and Chamakh, with Wenger again trying to go for quality over quantity. The news that Fabregas should be staying will be a huge boost and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsenal go well, although the squad might just not be deep enough in terms of talent to get them past Manchester United and Chelsea. 13/2 is probably about right for them, as Chamakh has the potential to be a huge signing for them and their young squad could come on for the experience of last season.
Last season: 6th.
Oh, how I loathe three, Martin O’Neill. I had this piece all typed up and you go and quit on us. James Milner is on his way out and things all look doom and gloom for The Villains. 6th will be a great achievement if they can manage it, which seems very unlikely now, unless they make some shrewd purchases with the money from Milner and also get a world class manager to replace the one they’ve just lost.
Last season: 9th.
Were Birmingham City the overachievers of last season? Their stingy defense kept them in with a shout for a European place and it was only down to the lack of goals that they struggled to break the top eight. The huge Nikola Zigic will try and solve that problem for them, but at 2,500/1, the bookies can’t see them doing any damage.
Last season: 10th.
Blackburn fans might be upset that they’re quoted at twice the price of Birmingham City to win the English Premiership and, let’s be honest, they both might as well be the same price. If you fancy having a dabble on Blackburn Rovers, as 5,000/1, I’m not going to stop you. Hey, they’re former champions and they’ve got as much of a chance as Birmingham. Plus, they’re supposedly being taken over, so there might be a miracle on the cards should a massive investor come in and hand Big Sam a blank checkbook to go wild in the transfer market.
Best Price: 10,000/1 @ Bet365, Blue Square and Stan James.
Last season: N/A
Step up and name your price. Blackpool should be winning the English Premiership 1 time out of 10,000 to make the price value. Can you see it happening? A ridiculous price, as the bookies could go 100,000/1 and although they might get takers, they’ll never have to pay out on this bet. If anything, they’ll be going right back down. Too small a squad to go along with too small a stadium. Sorry, Blackpool fans, but enjoy your only season in the Premiership.
Last season: 14th.
Perhaps one of the most boring teams in the Premiership and nothing is expected to change this season. Mid-table mediocrity is the dream, although Bolton might struggle with that. They’ll be in the dogfight for relegation, so the 5,000/1 is entirely pointless.
Best Price: 17/10 @ Paddy Power
Last season: 1st.
The English Premiership champions of last season and they’ll be hoping for the same again. They’re a short enough price, but they have the money and the drawing power to sign the best players in the world at the drop of a hat, so their squad can only get stronger. They headlines have been about them letting Joe Cole go, but it doesn’t matter when Ancelotti can bring in a more than adequate replacement. Chelsea should be winning the league again this season, but do you want to have money tied up for ten months at such a short price? Well, maybe, but it’s no certainty, especially with some big teams in the league now that weren’t there in the past. The Community Shield defeat to Manchester United was nothing to worry about, but they may not find things as easy with teams catching up to them.
Best Price: 250/1 @ Stan James, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Bodog.
Last season: 8th.
David Moyes – miracle worker? The fact is, he got some great results out of his team towards the end of the season and if it wasn’t for having such a depleted squad at the start of the season, last season’s 8th position finish would have been a lot better. He has a small, but talented squad and although it’s hard to see them finishing in the top 4, it’s not impossible to see them having a good season. If they can get a good start to the season, why not? The English Premiership is full of average teams there for the beating and Everton can certainly do that.
Best Price: 1,500 @ Blue Square
Last season: 12th.
What a year for Fulham. Their fans would never have expected a European final and a decent season. They’ve lost Roy Hodgson to Liverpool, but they’ve replaced him with the more than competent Mark Hughes. It could be a tough year if the team doesn’t gel, but I’m sure Hughes will get the best out of another small team. Not going to be title contenders, but they won’t struggle.
Best Price: 14/1 @ Blue Square and William Hill
Last Season: 7th.
Oh, Scousers everywhere will have been sick last season. They’ve still got European football, but it’s the Europa League. Nothing but the English Premiership will do for Liverpool fans. A new manager at the helm and some new signings, as well as keeping their big guns, so Liverpool won’t be finishing lower than 7th. 14/1 is actually quite a generous price should Hodgson manage his heroics like he did last season at Craven Cottage. Big times ahead for the Anfield club and I certainly wouldn’t put you off having a dabble at what appears to be a great price, especially if they can keep Torres fit.
Last season: 5th
The team everyone wants to be watching and no-one will fancy playing against. A proverbial dream team of players with a bottomless bank account. They’re going to have some big names before the month is over and they’re going into this season having underachieved last season, managing a terrible position after such early hype. It’s the same again this year, but Roberto Mancini will have experience of the English Premiership under his belt and the 6/1 on offer might be extremely generous come May. They’ll be buying their success, yes, but they’re going to be up there with the quality on show. If anyone was in doubt at what Carlos Tevez can do for them, just watch the highlights of him at the World Cup. He’ll take charge of that team on the field and might just take them to Premiership glory.
Best Price: 5/2 @
Last season: 2nd.
Maybe a season of rebuilding for Sir Alex Ferguson and his squad. He’s sewing the seeds of change at Old Trafford and he’s slowly bringing young players in. He’s not bought players that have inspired confidence that he’s gunning for Premiership glory. The Community Shield win will have given fans some confidence going into the start of the Premiership season, but something doesn’t sit right with me and I can see them falling away to the big spending clubs throughout the season.
Best Price: 1,000/1 @ Blue Square and Ladbrokes
Last season: N/A
Last season’s Championship winners, Newcastle United are back where they belong, if you listen to their fans. At 1,000/1, Newcastle United might have some backers to win the English Premiership, but it won’t be me. They’ve not had a great pre-season and they have a tiny, tiny squad that hasn’t had much investment. Time will tell how strong they are, but they don’t seem to be world-beaters. A season of consolidation might be the best they can hope for and if they can manage a safe mid-table finish, I think the Geordie faithful will be more than happy, then they can take on the Premiership in the 2011-2012 season!
Best Price: 2,500/1 @ Blue Square, Stan James, Bet365
Last season: 11th.
The team famous for their long throws, they’re somewhat overachievers in the Premiership. They’re no frills and I guess it can be boring for their fans at times. The fact is, if you back them for a match or for the Premiership, or for the Premiership title, you’re going to get 100% effort out of them. They’ll be lucky to even finish in the top half, but they’re a team of grafters. If you back them, try not to watch them, just take the 2,500/1 and check the results at full-time.
Best Price: 1,000/1 @ Bet365 and Blue Square.
Last season: 13th.
They’re the same price at 1,000/1 as their neighbours, Newcastle, to achieve Premiership success and that’s probably fair. On paper, not a flash team and on the pitch they’re not too flash, either. They have some top young players and they have the prolific Darren Bent, which must count as one of the best buys in recent years, as he’s scored some important goals for Sunderland, who without them might have struggled more than they have. They won’t be winning the Premiership any time soon, but they might just be too good to go down.
Last season: 4th.
What a great season Harry Redknapp had in charge of Tottenham. Premiership glory was on the cards for a while and a 4th place finish is fantastic and they’ll look to build on that, with all eyes firmly on Premiership success. Can they do it? Probably not, but 36/1 is generous enough and you’ll get a run from your money. It’s a solid squad with a solid manager and they should only get better. The pressures of Champions League football might take its toll on them, but, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem and another Champions League spot will come if they avoid a major disaster.
West Bromwich Albion:
Last season: N/A
Another name your price team here. They’ll struggle to make an impact and might just nick their points of their relegation opposition. West Brom are a team that concede goals for fun and only do well by outscoring the opposition. That isn’t going to happen in the Premiership and I’m sure they’re going right back down if they’re not careful. They are the definition of a yo-yo club and if they stay up, it’s down to the goalscoring abilities against the weaker teams in the league.
West Ham United :
Best Price: 2,500/1 @ Bet365 and Blue Square
Last Season: 17th.
Hopefully West Ham can have a better season in the Premiership than last season. Last season was woeful by anyone’s standards and they were lucky to avoid relegation. But they have a new regime at the helm and have big ambitions and will be hoping for a top 10 finish at least. I can see that happening if they invest like they have planned. Plus, they have a top class striker in Carlton Cole, so why not? 2,500 and I’ll have a few bucks on them just for a bit of interest.
Last season: 16th.
Perhaps the last season of Premiership football for Wigan fans for a while. They’re struggling financially and the personnel on the pitch isn’t to the highest standard. It’s going to be a long, hard season for Wigan and last season doesn’t give any encouragement that they’re going to fare any better. If they can simply finish 17th, they’ll be happy. 7,500/1? Well, I might as well burn money.
Last season: 15th.
Mick McCarthy and his boys shocked everyone last season. Big Mick’s decision to play a weakened side against Manchester United paid off handsomely and they stayed up, confounding everyone’s expectations. Will they win the Premiership? Of course not. Will they stay up? Well, I hope so. I enjoy having Mick McCarthy in the Premiership and they do cause a bit of trouble for teams with their attacking style of play. They might go down, but if they do, they’ll go down fighting.