Cheltenham Festival 2018 Preview and Betting Tips
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There was plenty of football to enjoy over the summer. We had the Confederations Cup in Russia, the Gold Cup in America, a host of international youth tournaments and the Women’s European Championship in the Netherlands.
If we’re honest though, they never quite filled the void left by the end of the last domestic season. Thankfully, the Premier League returns this weekend and we look to be in store for another dramatic battle at both ends of the table.
With so many big signings, a handful of managerial changes and exciting promoted teams, there are certainly a lot of ways to attack the coming season from a betting perspective. So, let’s have a look at the key outright markets and see if we can pick some winners.
Man City 9/5 (Ladbrokes)
Chelsea 7/2 (Bet365)
Man Utd 7/2 (Sky Bet)
Tottenham 10/1 (William Hill)
Arsenal 12/1 (Betfred)
Liverpool 13/1 (888Sport)
Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, recently said that it is his belief that six teams are capable of winning the Premier League this season. Conte’s own team are the second favourites behind Man City with the bookies but the Italian may feel that their chances aren’t quite as strong as that.
It’s become clear that Conte did not want to sell Nemanja Matic to Man Utd and that he has been frustrated in the transfer window. The Blues have spent over £100 million on Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko but they missed out on some of their top targets and now have a first team squad that is verging on threadbare ahead of their opening game against Burnley.
Recent history has shown that an unhappy manager at Chelsea tends to have an unhappy ending for the club and given the state of morale at the club, it looks advisable to avoid backing the defending champions at 7/2 with Bet365.
Man City manager, Pep Guardiola, has no such qualms about needing to sign extra players. He has spent so much on defenders that there’s a joke going around about City having a bigger defence budget than most countries.
With his own players and a year to acclimatise to the Premier League, there are no more excuses for Guardiola. The Man City owners will expect the title this year and they may well get it. After a couple of weeks to get their fitness up, City were ruthless in pre-season wins against Real Madrid, Tottenham and West Ham and with so much quality in their ranks, they are the team to stop at 9/5 with Ladbrokes.
Arsenal will hope to have something to say about the title race at 12/1 with Betfred given that Arsene Wenger is going to play a weakened team for their Europa League campaign. However, there are question marks about whether they have the quality in depth to win the big one. The best course of action for the Gunners could be to back them before the season and then cash out of the bet when their odds drop to guarantee a profit.
Huddersfield 8/13 (William Hill)
Burnley 13/10 (888Sport)
Brighton 5/4 (Ladbrokes)
Watford 15/8 (Sky Bet)
Swansea 9/4 (Ladbrokes)
Newcastle 4/1 (Coral)
Few people tipped Huddersfield for promotion from the Championship last season given that they had one of the smallest budgets in the division. It is, therefore, no surprise that they are the favourites to be relegated.
Huddersfield manager, David Wagner, and chairman, Dean Hoyle, have worked wonders to get the club into the top flight and they will try to enjoy their stay in the Premier League even if it is only a short one. At a best price of 8/13 with William Hill it’s hard to see the Terriers avoiding the drop.
Brighton and Newcastle are the other newly promoted teams and while they’ve both got a battle on their hands, they should have enough about them to finish outside of the bottom three. It’s likely, therefore, that at least one established Premier League side could slip out of the division.
Burnley have spent a fair amount of money over the summer but it is hard to get too excited about moves for Jack Cork, Jon Walters and Phil Bardsley. They are typical Sean Dyche signings – hard working, experienced in the Premier League, British – but watching Burnley last season it was clear they were crying out for a bit of creativity.
The Clarets did very well to get to the magical 40 point mark last season despite picking up just seven points on their travels but the competition has got fiercer and the loss of Michael Keane will hurt them so back Burnley for the drop at 13/10 with 888Sport.
Crystal Palace who are 11/2 for the drop with Sportingbet could also be an intriguing option. They hardly set the world on fire last season and this time around they’ve got a manager without Premier League experience and their ownership is the subject of intense press speculation. That hardly inspires confidence.
Harry Kane 3/1 (Bet365)
Romelu Lukaku 4/1 (Paddy Power)
Sergio Aguero 7/1 (William Hill)
Gabriel Jesus 9/1 (Sky Bet)
Alvaro Morata 10/1 (Bet365)
Alexandre Lacazette 12/1 (Bet365)
Alexis Sanchez 14/1 (William Hill)
Marcus Rashford 33/1 (Sportingbet)
There is simply no debate about it any more, Harry Kane is a world class striker. The Tottenham star scored an incredible 29 league goals last season to win the Golden Boot for the second year in succession and he is the bookies’ favourite to make it a hat-trick this time around.
Despite the club’s lack of activity in the transfer window so far, Spurs are primed for another season competing in the top four but that doesn’t mean Kane is automatically good value at 3/1 with Bet365. He could easily lose form or fitness so we prefer the 9/1 that Sky Bet are quoting on Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian knows a thing or two about injury stopping a goalscoring run having broken a metatarsal shortly after signing for Man City. However, he scored goals for fun either side of that set back and with City looking stronger than ever, he’ll get more chances than most of his Golden Boot competitors so 9/1 does look a very tempting price.
Man City to win the Premier League at 9/5 with Ladbrokes
Huddersfield to be relegated at 8/13 with William Hill
Burnley to be relegated at 13/10 with 888Sport
Gabriel Jesus to be top goalscorer at 9/1 with Sky Bet