We are already two months into the 2016-17 Premier League campaign, and for every pre-season question we have had answered already, two new ones seem to pop up.
Manchester City keep up this blistering scoring pace? Are we about to see Wayne Rooney become a bench warmer? And who in the world is going to score goals for Stoke?
As always though, the most interesting questions remain the biggest ones: who is going to be atop the table when the season finishes in May, and who will be the three clubs playing in the Championship next August? Below, with some help from our online oddsmakers, we ruminate over exactly those things.
Title contender: Manchester City
Not unexpectedly, City have had the fastest start of any team this season. Despite playing a schedule of mostly teams at the bottom of the table (save for their win at Old Trafford in gameweek 4), City were undefeated and undrawn through their first six matches before their loss to Tottenham in their most recent outing.
Through those matches, they have scored the most goals (18), allowed the second-least (7), and have two of league’s leading scorers in Aguero and Sterling (nine goals combined). Given all that, it’s no surprise that they are every bookmaker’s favourite to win the Premier League outright right now at around 4/7 odds.
Title contender: Liverpool
Most pundits didn’t give Liverpool a glimmer of hope for winning the EPL this season, but about a sixth of the way through the campaign the Reds are the second-favourite of most sportsbooks (around 5/1 odds). However do be careful as odds can change dramatically and every online gambling site has different odds. It’s best to find out more before placing your first bet, so make sure you check out all the relevant guides and tutorials.
Despite sitting at fifth in the table, Jurgen Klopp’s side has put forth strong performances in wins over Arsenal, Leicester, and Chelsea already, and only City has scored more goals than them. With no European play to wear down or otherwise distract the squad, we could be witnessing a very real Liverpool title run this season.
Title contender: Arsenal
Arsenal’s three big signings over the summer (Granit Xhaka, Lucas Perez, and Shkodran Mustafi) haven’t seen too much time in EPL matches yet. Even so, Arsenal are sitting in the top four after the first two months of the season.
Instead, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott have been the hot hands (or feet) in league play thus far, but the presence of their new teammates will no doubt ease some of the pressure off them as the Champions League campaign picks up. Most books have the Gunners as their third favourites to be atop the table in May.
Other title contenders
Again, it’s extremely early to make a prediction on how the next eight months of the season are going to play out. Manchester United, Chelsea, and Spurs have all shown some kinks early on, but it’d be foolish to count anyone out at this point, especially in a league where a 5000/1 underdog won the whole thing last season.
Spurs and their defence that’s the stingiest in the Premier League might be one to jump on, although it’s impossible to say how dangerous United will be once their new additions get firing on all cylinders.
Relegation candidate: Burnley
Although they are a comfortable five positions away from the danger zone at the time of this writing, Burnley is still Sky’s favourite to be relegated at the end of the season odds.
While there’s been one or two encouraging results thus far (such as the 2-0 win over Liverpool), if you’re a Clarets supporter you just hope your side can escape a rough October slate (Arsenal, at Southampton, Everton, at Manchester United) with enough morale intact to be able to stay fighting the rest of the season.
Relegation candidate: Sunderland
Sam Allardyce, Sunderland’s saviour at the end of the last season, didn’t stick around long and so far it looks like the Black Cats are going to find themselves in a similar situation at the end of this campaign: fighting for Premier league survival.
With David Moyes now at the helm, Sunderland’s season has started just about as poorly as possible. One point and five goals in six games doesn’t scream Premiership-caliber play, but if there is any silver lining it’s that all but one of those matches came against competition that will likely finish in the top half of the table. While they’re far from a top side, we’ll get a better feel for Sunderland’s caliber when their schedule eases up a bit this autumn.
Other Relegation Candidates
Hull and Swansea have the next most-likely odds to get sent down to the Championship, although based on what we’ve seen Stoke is already looking like a sure thing to be relegated.
The Potters have a double-digit goal-difference already (-11) and have conceded four goals on three separate occasions. Major summer signing Joe Allen has scored once (tying him for first on the club) and been overall encouraging, but has been battling a small injury bug as well.
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