THE English Premier League returns this weekend with an opening round of fixtures that should suit the big boys.
Manchester City will start the season as title favourites after yet another summer of heavy investment in the transfer window.
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens have firmed steadily over the past few weeks into +170 outright odds at online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au.
Manchester United (+300) and defending champs Chelsea (+320) are City’s closest rivals, while Tottenham Hotspur (+800), Arsenal and Liverpool (both +1000) are expected to fight over fourth place.
"The problem I have is @ManUtd still play rubbish football" Do you agree with Fozz?
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) August 9, 2017
Everton at +7500 odds are the only other side under triple figures in the title betting.
If the match markets alone are any indicator, it would be a shock if any of those seven teams failed to register a win this weekend.
It could be a difficult round for the promoted teams.
Premier League virgins Huddersfield Town have the most achievable task: an away date with Crystal Palace.
But Brighton & Hove Albion are hosting the might of Man City, while Newcastle United have Spurs to deal with.
How will they fare?
Arsenal to defeat Leicester – -222.22
Liverpool to defeat Watford – -188.68
Man City to defeat Brighton – -333.33
Newcastle and Tottenham to draw – +275
Arsenal vs. Leicester City
Saturday, August 11, 2017 – 4:45am AEST – Emirates Stadium
- Arsenal – -222.22
- Draw – +275
- Leicester – +400
Arsenal could hardly have requested a better match-up for the opening game of Premier League 2017-18.
While Leicester could be a handful this season, they have not beaten the Gunners in any competition since 1994.
All eyes will be on French forward Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal’s only big-money signing of the summer so far.
Anything but a win for Arsene Wenger’s men would have pundits and punters alike up in arms.
Watford vs. Liverpool
Saturday, August 12, 2017 – 9:30pm AEST – Vicarage Road
- Watford – +500
- Draw – +320
- Liverpool – -188.68
Remarkably, these two teams have drawn only once in 20 clashes since their first league meeting in 1982.
Watford have claimed four victories in that time, most recently a 3-0 drubbing at Vicarage Road in Jurgen Klopp’s first year at Liverpool.
The Hornets are expected to struggle this season, with many online bookies rating them a likely candidate for relegation.
This is a good opportunity for the Reds to make a strong opening statement, regardless of whether or not Philippe Coutinho is still at the club.
🐝 2-3 🔴
A #PL classic from Vicarage Road in 2000
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 8, 2017
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City
Sunday, August 13, 2017 – 2:30am AEST – Falmer Stadium
- Brighton – +900
- Draw – +400
- Man City – -333.33
The positive for Brighton is that things can only get easier from here.
Someone had to draw the title favourites on matchday one, and the Seagulls are the unlucky bastards holding the short straw.
It does not help that Man City will want to set the pace from day dot after investing over £200 million on new players.
Look for a big performance from Sergio Aguero, whose starting spot could come under serious threat this season.
Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday, August 13, 2017 – 10:30pm AEST – St James’ Park
- Newcastle – +400
- Draw – +275
- Tottenham – -149.25
There is a surprising aura of optimism surrounding Newcastle, while nobody really knows what to make of a Spurs side that has yet to complete a single summer signing.
You can absolutely bank on goals when these two meet, as they have not played a 0-0 draw since 1971.
They last exchanged pleasantries in May 2016, when a shock 5-1 win to the Toon killed off Tottenham’s title chances.
Spurs have started slowly in recent years, so there is value in backing a rare draw between these old foes.
More Premier League match odds
Markets courtesy of Sportsbet.com.au
Chelsea -454.55 – Draw +550 – Burnley +1300
Crystal Palace -138.89 – Draw +250 – Huddersfield +400
Everton -149.25 – Draw +275 – Stoke +450
Southampton -161.29 – Draw +275 – Swansea +500
West Brom +140 – Draw +225 – Bournemouth +210
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