Wednesday August 10, 2022

The Premier League begins this week with games all weekend — and continues for the next nine months.

So which team will come out on top? Is Manchester City the team to beat? Will another squad step up? We look for answers to those questions and more as play gets underway.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.


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Manchester City (-165)

City is the favorite to win their third consecutive English Premier League title. Liverpool (+200) is next up. Those teams finished 1-2 last year as well. Which team are you backing to take the trophy?

Dan Thomas: It has to be Manchester City again. They have brought in reinforcements over the summer which has taken their already strong squad to a new unsurpassable level.

Chris “The Bear” Fallica: I do not think Manchester City is as much of a lock as many think. Liverpool and City drew twice last year, and despite the pressure of trying to win all four trophies, the Reds were in position to do it on the final day of the year. Sadio Mane is gone, but the Liverpool attack should be breathtaking with a full season of Luis Diaz, newcomer Darwin Nunez and, of course, Mo Salah. Klopp’s side looks freshened and ready to win at least one of the two big trophies that eluded them last year.

Paul Carr: Just like last season, I think Man City is a little better. But just like last season, when the title came down to the final day, the gap between City and Liverpool isn’t very big, as seen in last weekend’s Community Shield. The Reds have reloaded up top, and even if City takes only a few games to fully adjust to Erling Haaland‘s style, any dropped points could be enough to let Liverpool sneak past. I’ll take Liverpool for the title at +200.

Dalen Cuff: I think this is a two-horse race that is much closer than the odds indicate. City is a deserving favorite. Haaland is a huge addition and Kalvin Phillips could replace Fernandinho well. However, City has lost players this year that aren’t over the hill as in past years but wanting to play elsewhere like Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Liverpool has done some good transfer business and Darwin Nunez could prove a big addition to recover from the loss of Sadio Mane. The Reds showed they were more than capable in a Community Shield battle with City that was shockingly competitive and full of effort. At +200, I’m gonna throw some money at Liverpool; a -165 price for City is just too steep for what I think is closer to a coin flip.

Those are the only two teams with single-digit odds to win the season title. Is there another team you are eyeing that has a shot to cash a long futures ticket?

Thomas: No. This is a two-horse race. Any argument to suggest otherwise is a stretch and a win for the bookies.

Fallica: No. If it’s not City or Liverpool I would be stunned.

Carr: I suppose Tottenham can be justified at 14-1, but even though Spurs were much better under Antonio Conte last season, they were still a notch or two behind City and Liverpool. So three things would all have to happen for a stunning champion: Tottenham would have to be even better, and both City and Liverpool would have to struggle mightily. Not happening.

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Cuff: As noted above, it’s a two-horse race. Any other play seems like wasted money.

Man City (-5000), Liverpool (-1600), Tottenham (-150) and Chelsea (-140) are favored to finish in the top 4 and get Champions League spots. Who do you see grabbing those last two spots?

Thomas: There are four teams vying for those remaining two Champions League places. Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and United. All of them have a fighter’s chance. I think the early stages of the season are really going to set the tone. Overall, I believe Chelsea have the deepest squad, and despite the fact they have no out-and-out striker, I think they have enough quality overall to get over the line. The other place is a doozy of a conversation. Spurs have the Conte effect with Kane and Son, Arsenal now have a proper striker in Gabriel Jesus, and United have a manager who you feel has the ability to finally deal with the locker room. I’m going to go for Arsenal, but boy is it close.

Fallica: Spurs have two of the better goal-scorers in the league and managed to take points from both City and Liverpool last year. Conte seems to be getting the best out of his side and they should take one of the seemingly two spots up for grabs. I’ll say Arsenal grabs the final spot. After nabbing 11 points from their first eight matches and people were screaming “Arteta out,” nobody took more points the rest of the way outside of City and Liverpool. Gabriel Jesus gives the Gunners a true striker, and Oleksandr Zinchenko will be a huge addition at left back, or wherever he ultimately lines up.

Carr: Tottenham and Arsenal. As mentioned, Tottenham was very good after Conte took over last November, ranking third in the league in points, goal difference and expected goal difference. Another year in Conte’s system will only help, as will Richarlison on the wing and Yves Bissouma in midfield. Chelsea (-140) and Arsenal (+165) are very close for the last spot, and given the prices, I’ll go with Arsenal. Gabriel Jesus should plug right in and start scoring goals, and William Saliba should strengthen a defense that struggled mightily at times last season. Chelsea certainly has talent on the field and on the touchline, but there are too many questions surrounding the Blues for me to pay that much juice.

Cuff: I think self awareness is critical and sorely lacking in our society. That said, this is a biased play. I’ve been an Arsenal fan for two decades, I like their transfer business a lot this offseason and think those moves, coupled with continued emergence of the young talent and Arteta coming into his own, at +165 they are good value to finally get back into the top four. Despite Chelsea’s poor preseason and turnover within the club and squad, I still think they have the most depth, and Tuchel will eventually find the best system for them. Spurs will be right there as well. Conte’s difference has already been felt, and their summer transfers appear critical. I think this is a really tight three-horse race, and I like the value with the Gunners and the Blues to edge Spurs.

City’s Erling Haaland (+275), Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (+450) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (+600) are at the top of the oddsboard for top goal-scorer. Which one do you like or is there a longer shot worth playing?

Thomas: After what we saw in the Community Shield, Darwin Nunez (12-1) is very much in that conversation, a constant threat and adds another dimension to the Liverpool attack. I don’t think Haaland offers much value, as much as he will get a lot of goals. I think injuries and rotation will mean that he won’t play every game. I would say Salah vs. Kane, with Kane offering the best value.

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Fallica: Every time Luis Diaz touched the ball last season, one seemingly had to hold their breath. His pace and ability are exceptional, and while he only netted four league goals last year in 13 matches, he likely will not take penalties. And although he has other prolific goal-scorers on his side, Diaz can be found as long as 50-1 to be the top goal-scorer. That’s a bet I’m willing to make. I’d also be willing to look at Gabriel Jesus, whom I mentioned earlier. He should be involved in many of Arsenal’s goals this year and will not be fighting for minutes, as he was in Manchester. He’s around 12-1 or so.

Carr: I’ll pass on Haaland because no player brought in from overseas has ever won the Golden Boot in his debut season. Additionally, the best Golden Boot options usually do two things: play for a Big 6 club (like all but one winner over the past 20 seasons) and take penalties (a free three to six goals!). Salah and Kane fit both criteria, and I’ll take Kane at a better price. He has at least 17 goals in eight straight Premier League seasons, and his 17 goals last season were actually three below his expected goals total. He fits well in Conte’s attacking system, and he’ll be in the mix. If you can get Gabriel Jesus at 12-1 or better, he’s worth a shot too. After seven goals in five preseason games, the potential is obvious, and if he can finish better than he did at City, 20-plus goals is in range.

Cuff: I think Haaland will take some time to get up to speed along with City in what will be a different system than in recent years. Kane and Salah are the going to be in the mix, but I like Gabriel Jesus at 10-1 and Son Heung-Min (who won the award with Salah last year) at 14-1. It isn’t just Jesus’ productivity in preseason, he will be leading the line for the Gunners. I think with those minutes and opportunities created by a lot of attacking talent around him has him in this race all year. Son may be the most underappreciated player in world football. Kane is critical to that team’s success, but Son is a clinical finisher that has already proven he can win this award and is great value at 14-1.

We’ve seen a number of Americans signed this offseason across Europe. Which U.S. players could lead their team to a championship?

Thomas: Championships are going to be difficult to come by for the U.S. contingent in Europe, but if you go to the Championship division, Zack Steffen, who is now first choice for Middlesboro, could prove to be a key piece of the puzzle for them to finally get back to the EPL

Carr: The best chances are in Scotland, where the U.S. is almost guaranteed a title. Cameron Carter-Vickers returns to defending champion Celtic (-165) after earning PFA Scotland Team of the Season honors, plus James Sands and Malik Tillman are at second-choice Rangers (+125). Those clubs have combined to win 36 straight Scottish titles. Beyond them, the best shot is probably the (now-injured) Weston McKennie at Juventus, currently a co-favorite to win Serie A, at +175 alongside Inter Milan.

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Cuff: If Sergino Dest is not transferred out by deadline day, Barcelona at +140 to win La Liga is a good bet. Given the financial rules, I’m also assuming Barca can actually register all their new signings including arguably the world’s best striker in Robert Lewandowski. Those are some big ifs, but Carter-Vickers with Celtic and Steffen seem like the most likely Americans to win a title.

Taking a look at the other European Leagues that start soon, who do you like to win a title and/or get top scorer.

Thomas: Bayern and PSG are both layups in their respective leagues, and unfortunately the odds reflect that. Meanwhile, La Liga is going to be a humdinger of a battle. I think Barcelona and their new-look side will not only be a match for defending champions Real Madrid, but will be lifting the league title come the end of the season.

Fallica: It’s fait accompli in France and Germany with PSG and Bayern Munich. I will likely be Barcelona or Real Madrid in Spain, and the Serie A title will remain in Northern Italy. So I’ll look to the Championship. Watford won its opener 1-0, posted a clean sheet, and the trio of Dennis, Pedro and Sarr looked as if it will offer Watford more goals at this level than the Hornets managed last year in the Prem. I expect a quick return to the top, and one can still find Watford at around 6-1 to win the Championship.

Cuff: I already touched on Barca at +140 as a solid bet, and La Liga doesn’t start for another week, so take time to see if they can get transfers registered. There is no value in Germany or France, but I like Inter Milan at +175 to win Serie A. They battled their city rivals AC Milan to the end last year but came up just short. They brought back Romelu Lukaku, who formed an outstanding partnership with Lautaro Martinez prior to the Belgian’s brief brutal stint at Chelsea last year. They’ve shorn up their goaltending, and I think can win Scudetto again in what should be a fun race with multiple teams vying until the end.

Which teams are in danger of relegation in the Premier League?

Carr: In the Premier League era, only once have all three newly promoted teams been immediately relegated, so at least one Premier League holdover is likely to be sent down. I like Southampton (+300) to be one of those teams. The Saints were the second-worst team in the league after March 1 last season, with five points (tied for second-fewest) and a minus-13 expected goal difference (second-worst). Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad did sign several promising young players, but development isn’t what’s needed for a relegation scrap. Southampton still hasn’t replaced Danny Ings‘ goals, and the wheels could fall off Hassenhuttl’s pressing system this season.

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