THE ante-post handicap markets always provoke a lot of debate. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at this year’s Premier League market.
WLB 2015/16 Preview | Premier League Handicap
Southampton and Swansea were the top sides in last year’s handicap markets and this year’s renewal should prove fascinating. Chelsea were victorious by eight points last season and Bet365 are giving their backers hope by making their main rivals just three (Manchester City), six (Arsenal) and seven points (Manchester United) better off than them.
My feelings on Manchester City this season have been well documented in my Outright preview and they were the first name stroked off my list. I’m also yet to be convinced that Arsenal can go all the way and it’s eight seasons since they managed to get within six points of the champions.
Manchester United are the first of the sides I’ll be backing. Yes, they need a decent points swing to pick up this prize but I feel it’s definitely possible. They were 17 points behind Chelsea last season and are receiving seven points here. Can they make up 10 points on the champions? Yes.
Just think back to last season…it was a car crash for Manchester United. While Chelsea avoided any sort of bad run Louis Van Gaal’s side had two at opposite sides of the season.
Firstly they opened up the season with just one win in their opening five games. 10 points had been sacrificed by the third week of September. And then at the far end of the campaign they run out of gas with one win in their final six encounters. 13 points were lost in that period.
So that’s 23 points haemorrhaged over those two spells. With Louis Van Gaal in his second spell as manager and a raft of new signings on board I think we’ll see a big improvement from the Old Trafford outfit this time round. That gap can get smaller.
The other side I’m backing is Crystal Palace. They look in great nick this year. Not only do they have England’s best manager but also one of the best Premier League players in recent years in Yohan Cabaye.
Like Manchester United they had a horrible period in last year’s competition and the source of that has now been extinguished. Neil Warnock has gone and Alan Pardew has come in.
Due to Warnock Palace hit the bottom three at the turn of the year and found themselves with just 16 points as the bells clanged for 2015. That was after 19 games. 16 points out of a possible 57.
In came Alan Pardew just after the New Year drinks had been cleared away and things took a shift upwards. 32 points were snaffled up from New Years Day and Palace finished in the Top 10.
So 16 points in the opening half (Warnock) and 32 in the closing half (Pardew). 48 points overall. Far fetched perhaps, but it would have been 64 if Pardew had been in charge from the start and replicated his closing half in the pre-New Year period. That would have put them level on points with Tottenham in fifth place!
Let’s say they improve by 10 points this season (very possible looking at the evidence above), that would put them within 29 points of last year’s Chelsea with a 35 point handicap in their favour. 58 points plus their 35 from Bet365 puts them on 93. That sort of figure would put them right in the mix.
With this exciting Crystal Palace side looking good, perhaps a 10 point improvement is being too modest.
Premier League Handicap – Manchester United +7 (15/1 Bet365)
Premier League Handicap – Crystal Palace +35 (15/1 Bet365)
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