Thursday, July 28, 2005

Less is Mour, a Premier League preview

After a summer of relative tranquility, where only the visit of Australian cricketers or a meeting of 16 peculiar people in a house could arouse our interest, the return of the Premiership is set to awaken us from our betting slumber.

The bookmakers have created a colossal amount of markets for the new season, including which manager will be the first to leave his post, which player will receive the most bookings, and for the more adventurous, which team will win the title.

To discover everything you need to know about your team’s chances for the new season, and preview the mountain of specials on offer, read on.

Arsenal

Winners 10/3 @ Bet Direct
Relegation 10,000/1 @ Sporting Odds
Season Special – Arsenal to finish above Chelsea 5/4 @ Super Soccer
Player Special – Henry to win the Golden Boot 9/4 @ BET 365

The sale of Vieira was the shock of the summer, but if Wenger can remain unruffled after throwing a Paddy, we must take the hint that he’s happy with the abundance of talent at the club. The Premiership’s most consistent team of recent years are Gunner regain their title.

Aston Villa

Winners 500/1 @ Sporting Odds
Relegation 25/1 @ Totesport
Season Special – Villa to finish above Birmingham 4/5 @ Super Soccer
Player Special – Angel to score more than Forssell 10/11 @ Super Soccer

O’Leary has added real quality to the Villa squad; Kevin Phillips is a fantastic signing for £750,000, Stuart Taylor looks the part and he’s managed to get his hands on a free Berger. European football? It’s coming to a Holte.

Birmingham

Winners 700/1 @ Sporting Odds
Relegation 16/1 @ UK Betting
Season Special – Birmingham to finish above Villa 11/10 @ BET 365
Player Special – Forssell to score more than Angel 4/5 @ Super Soccer

The Forss may be with them, but can they sign Pandiani? The City manager believes that the Uruguayan can make all the difference for the Blues, and what’s good for the Bruce, is good for the Panda.

Blackburn

Winners 1,500/1 @ BET 365
Relegation 10/1 @ Stan James
Season Special – Blackburn to finish above Bolton 6/5 @ Stan James
Player Special – Robbie Savage to be sent off in a league match 2/1 @ Super Soccer

He’s more camp than Savage, more hillbill than Kill Bill, but his antics always generate interest. You can back Robbie to be sent off in any league match at 2/1, but beware, he rarely gets caught.

Bolton

Winners 500/1 @ Super Soccer
Relegation 25/1 @ Skybet
Season Special – Betting without the big 3 25/1 @ Ladbrokes
Player Special – El Hadji Diouf to be sent off in a league match 5/4 @ Super Soccer

The signing of Diouf is a major gamble, and reports of a summer bust up with a team-mate’s partner (The spit man and her) have done little to improve the Senegalese hit-man’s reputation. However, Big Sam is a master of his trade and a top half finish is guaranteed.

Charlton

Winners 1,000/1 @ Super Soccer
Relegation 8/1 @ UK Betting
Season Special – Charlton to finish in the top half of the table 13/8 @ Paddy Power
Manager Special – Curbishley to be the first manager to go 14/1 @ Coral

Charlton’s customary end of season collapse brought the following quote from the manager, “Maybe I’ve been here too long.” A slow start to the season could see Alan kicked to the Curb.

Chelsea

Winners 5/6 @ VC Bet
Relegation 10,000/1 @ Stan James
Season Special – Chelsea to win the quadruple 100/1 @ UK Betting
Player Special – Drogba to win the Golden Boot 16/1 @ Coral

Paul McCartney believed that ‘Money can’t buy me love’ but Paul Daniels and Chelsea fans would probably disagree. Retaining a title is always tougher than winning a title, 2nd place for the Blues.

Everton

Winners 300/1 @ Totesport
Relegation 40/1 @ William Hill
Season Special – Everton to finish above Liverpool 7/2 @ BET 365
Player Special – Beattie to score more than Cisse 11/8 @ Super Soccer

Liverpool are the best team in Europe, and Everton are the best team in Liverpool; Chelsea must be petrified. Everton’s drop down the table is as certain as night follows day, possibly more so.

Fulham

Winners 1,500/1 @ Super Soccer
Relegation 4/1 @ Totesport
Season Special – Fulham to finish in the top half of the table 11/4 @ Paddy Power
Player Special – Helguson to score 10 or more league goals 11/10 @ Super Soccer

The loss of Van der Sar will be a real blow for Fulham, but as Andy Cole has also left the club, the news hasn’t been all bad in the transfer market this summer. The arrival of Helguson should guarantee a few goals this year as Fulham consolidate their mid-table position.

Liverpool

Winners 20/1 @ Stan James
Relegation 2,500/1 @ VC Bet
Season Special – Liverpool to finish above Man Utd 7/4 @ Super Soccer
Player Special – Cisse to win the Golden Boot 22/1 @ BET 365

After finishing 37 points behind Chelsea last season, Benitez has decided to bolster his forward line of Cisse and Morientes with Peter Crouch. Possibly the worst decision since a Scouser set fire to his Gerrard shirt, the day before he agreed to sign a new contract. D’oh.

Man City

Winners 750/1 @ Sporting Odds
Relegation 20/1 @ Totesport
Season Special – City to do the double over United 25/1 @ Super Soccer
Player Special – Andy Cole to score 10 or more league goals Evs @ Super Soccer

An awful pre-season for the Blues saw Joey Barton scrap with a 15 year old Everton fan, and Andy Cole sign a contract. Psycho will probably continue with his cunning plan of playing David James up front, as they’ll almost certainly concede fewer goals.

Man United

Winners 7/2 @ Bet Direct
Relegation 5,000/1 @ Stan James
Season Special – Man Utd to finish above Arsenal 11/10 @ Stan James
Player Special – Rooney to win the Golden Boot 14/1 @ Coral

The arrival of a quality keeper will ensure that United are a real threat for the title this season. The 14/1 about Rooney topping the goalscorer charts looks real value, it’s as clear as the chin on his chin.

Middlesbrough

Winners 300/1 @ Coral
Relegation 33/1 @ William Hill
Season Special – Middlesbrough to finish above Newcastle Evs @ Stan James
Player Special – Yakubu to score more than Shearer 5/6 @ Super Soccer

It’s time to ask the question; is Steve McClaren a good manager? One Carling Cup and the odd UEFA Cup tie against the likes of Egaleo does not represent a reasonable return on Steve Gibson’s considerable outlay; 15 for the Yak, or Macca for the sack.

Newcastle

Winners 250/1 @ Totesport
Relegation 40/1 @ Super Soccer
Season Special – Newcastle to be the top North East club 5/6 @ BET 365
Manager Special – Souness to be the first manager to go 11/2 @ BET 365

After a season of dressing room unrest, the manager’s plan to improve morale consists of replacing Craig Bellamy with Nicolas Anelka. Oh dear. The Geordies have fallen for the Scott Parker myth; it’s another disappointing season ahead.

Portsmouth

Winners 3,000/1 @ Sporting Odds
Relegation 9/4 @ VC Bet
Season Special – Pompey to finish in the top half of the table 7/2 @ Paddy Power
Player Special – Robert to score 5 or more league goals 11/8 @ Super Soccer

Laurent Robert is the footballing equivalent of modern art. Occasionally pretty to look at, but it serves no real purpose. They struggled last season with Yakubu and Berger, they’re relegated without them.

Sunderland

Winners 5,000/1 @ Skybet
Relegation 4/5 @ Stan James
Season Special – Sunderland to finish in the top half of the table 7/1 @ Paddy Power
Manager Special – McCarthy to be the first manager to go 14/1 @ VC Bet

Stead and Elliott look to be a handy partnership up front and their goals can ensure Sunderland’s survival. Victor Chandler make Mick McCarthy a 14/1 shot to be the first manager to leave his post; a case of a big Mackem fries.

Tottenham

Winners 200/1 @ Skybet
Relegation 66/1 @ Totesport
Season Special – Tottenham to finish in the top six 7/4 @ Ladbrokes
Player Special – Defoe to win the Golden Boot 18/1 @ Stan James

Spurs have been linked with every world class player on the market this summer, and have bought Tom Huddlestone. Alex Ferguson believes the Spurs may be a challenger this season, although exactly what he expects them to be challenging for is open to question.

West Brom

Winners 5,000/1 @ Bet Direct
Relegation Evs @ BET 365
Season Special – West Brom to finish above Portsmouth Evs @ BET 365
Player Special – Earnshaw to score 10 or more league goals Evs @ Super Soccer

The film ‘Get Carter’ inspired their summer transfer policy. The film ‘Falling Down’ will represent their season.

West Ham

Winners 5,000/1 @ Ladbrokes
Relegation 8/11 @ Super Soccer
Season Special – West Ham to finish above Tottenham 7/2 @ BET 365
Player Special – Repka to have the worst disciplinary record 20/1 @ Totesport

The bookies make them favourites to finish bottom of the league, but don’t be deceived; not every Hammer is a tool.

Wigan

Winners 5,000/1 @ Skybet
Relegation 4/5 @ Premier Bet
Season Special - Wigan not to be relegated 11/10 @ UK Betting
Player Special – Roberts to score more than Ellington Evs @ Super Soccer

Wigan now have a top class football team and an awful rugby team, if this move towards an upside down parallel universe continues, who knows? Birmingham may win a trophy that doesn’t have the word ‘windscreen’ in the title. Wigan have a great manager and great strikers. They’ll stay up.

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