Premier League season preview: Manchester City look to defend domestic crown
Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Arsenal in the pick of the first round matches
The FIFA World Cup may only just have ended, but there is just under a month to go until the FA Premier League starts up again in earnest. Manchester City cruised the title last season with little competition from their biggest, rivals, but the next campaign could turn out ti be very different indeed.
France rarely got out of third gear as they cruised towards their second World Cup title with a 4-2 win over Croatia. The fact that the likes of Germany, Spain, Argentina and Brazil fell early meant they were not tested perhaps as much as they could have been.
First things first
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Last time out, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City broke records as they stormed towards the title. The Citizens became the first team to mount up 100 points in a 38-game campaign, as they won an impressive 32 matches and scored a barely believable 106 goals, averaging close to three goals per game as Guardiola and his side set a new standard in domestic English football.
It will therefore come as little surprise to see that they are the red hot favourites to retain their league title. Manchester City are at just 1.57 to win the league for a second successive year, far ahead of any of their competitors.
And City are involved in the most mouth-watering of the first round fixtures of the new season. On Sunday, 12 August the defending champions travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal.
It will be the first game in over two decades in which Arsene Wenger has not been in the dugout for the Gunners. New boss Unai Emery has taken over during the off-season, and he could not face a tougher opponent for his first league game in charge – Emery and his new side have been thrown in at the deep end.
Arsenal come into their first home match of the new campaign as the underdogs. The London outfit are at 3.50 to take all three points, while City and Guardiola are at the shorter price of just 2.00 to kick off the new season with a victory.
Guardiola is of course renowned for playing passing, attacking football, and while it is never easy to try and predict the exact score of a game, particularly so early on in the season, a 2-0 win for City is priced at 12.00, meaning more than a ten-fold return on any investment. Under 2.5 goals in the tie is priced at 2.35, according to Oddsshark.
City have brought in playmaker Riyah Mahrez but ultimately missed out on another key target, midfielder Jorginho, who opted to join coach Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. The former Napoli boss replaces compatriot Antonio Conte at Chelsea and will be charged with taking the Stamford Bridge outfit far closer to the title than Conte managed last term, with the club finishing fifth and missing out on Champions League football.
Chelsea finished the last campaign five points behind Liverpool, who came fourth, and Sarri will have his work cut out trying to push them up the table this season. Chelsea are at 215.00 to win the title for the second time in three seasons, and they kick off the new campaign away to Huddersfield Town, a game in which the Londoners are the clear favourites to take three points.
Chelsea are priced at just 1.50 to pick up an opening day win in Yorkshire. Huddersfield, by way of comparison, are at 7.00 to make a wining start to the new season.
Liverpool defied all expectations in the previous campaign to reach the final of the UEFA Champions League, where they were eventually undone by Real Madrid. Having added the likes of Neby Keita and Fabinho to their ranks prior to the new season, their chances of offering a more sustained challenge domestically have been increased.
Liverpool come into the season as the second favourites to win the title. Klopp’s men are priced at 6.00, meaning that a US$10 initial investment could offer a US$60 return come the end of the campaign.
Premier League Round 1 fixtures
Friday, 10 August
(1.36) Manchester United x Leicester City (9.00); draw (4.50)
Saturday, 11 August
(3.60) Newcastle United x Tottenham Hotspur (2.05); draw (3.40)
(2.00) Bournemouth x Cardiff City (3.60); draw (3.50)
(2.30) Fulham x Crystal Palace (3.10); draw (3.30)
(7.00) Huddersfield Town x Chelsea (1.50); draw (4.00)
(1.90) Southampton x Burnley (4.00); draw (3.40)
(2.20) Watford x Brighton (3.30); draw (3.25)
(2.25) Wolverhampton Wanderers x Everton (3.20); draw (3.30)
Sunday, 12 August
(1.28) Liverpool x West Ham United (11.00); draw (5.00)
(3.50) Arsenal x Manchester City (2.00); draw (3.60)
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