WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Premier League: Bets For Every Club
For many, the biggest, most enjoyable betting challenge comes before a single competitive ball is kicked via the ever-increasing range of ante-post betting markets. The puzzle to work out what might happen even before the season starts and before we truly know how each team will perform, is for me, the ultimate test.
The unknown creates enthusiasm and adventure, whilst watching your pre-season predictions pay-off and return a profit after 10 months of action is a sweet feeling.
Up until five years ago, my ante-post betting was limited to picking a few teams to win their respective leagues and players to be Top Goalscorer. But I wanted to test myself and find something different to add real interest to the campaign ahead.
I set myself the fun challenge of scouring the-markets to find an pre-season punt for EVERY Premier League team and I'm delighted I did as ever since the ante-post betting experience has become much more interesting, with basically every match meaning something.
So with the 2020/21 Premier League season just days away now, I've once again taken on the challenge. Obviously, the effects of the disjointed and extended season gone by, along with the transfer window being open until October mean there are many unknowns and risks attached to ante-post punting this year. So please factor that in when betting, and consider staking levels that match the uncertainty.
Arsenal to earn Over 65 Points (13/8)
The market that has caught my eye for Arsenal is the Points Total Market and I believe that Arsenal Over 65 Points at 13/8 is one that has real scope to collect.
Fifty-six points was the dismal return last season for the Gunners but that was due to yet more unrest within the squad, managerial changes, injuries etc. But now that Mikel Arteta is in charge there is a real sense of Arsenal improving to become more solid and overall a much better team.
Arsenal would only have to improve 10 points on last season to collect on the Over 65 Points and I'd say that's entirely doable for the Gunners with their squad being strengthened as I write and the obvious impact that Arteta is having.
Aston Villa to be relegated (7/4)
Given the position that Aston Villa found themselves in with four games to go last season, I'm still not sure how they survived, and I'd say plenty of Villa fans will feel the same as they looked doomed.
However, they did stay up and have another chance in the Premier League this term; they'll look to improve on their dismal goalscoring record and defensive records but I just don't know if they can do enough to survive this time around – sorry Villa fans but 7/4 for Villa to get relegated looks fair enough.
Something to cheer Villans supporters up could be backing Villa to finish above West Brom in a Season Match Bet, mind.
Brighton to earn Over 42 Points (11/8)
Graham Potter is a very popular manager at Brighton and it's clear to see he's someone who is always looking to improve on what he and his team achieved each season, I think they have real scope to do that this term.
Fifthteenth and 41 points was the outcome for last season for Brighton and I'd say the positives about the way they approach matches with hopefully a few good signings to be added means they have every chance of improving on that.
Brighton to get Over 42 Points is 11/8 and they'd only have to improve by two points on last season's efforts to do that and that surely has every chance of happening.
Burnley to Finish Above Aston Villa (4/6)
Rumblings of discontent between Sean Dyche and the Burnley board must have had Clarets fans worried but that seems to have gone away after Burnley did fantastically well to finish 10th on 54 points.
I don't think that received enough credit and I believe Burnley generally don't get regarded by the media, bookmakers or punters.
I took the Season Match Bet route last year with Burnley and had them to finish above Brighton at 4/5, they did that by 13 points and they are 4/6 to finish above Aston Villa side who were 19 points behind them last season, I don't see that gap closing this year.
Chelsea to win the league Without Manchester City and Liverpool (6/4)
Some of the media would have you believe that Frank Lampard deserves a knighthood for his first season in charge of Chelsea but 12 league defeats, 54 league goals conceded and Bayern Munich teaching them a lesson are failings that can't be ignored.
The Chelsea board and owners have made their intentions clear by a new surge of spending with big moves for Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz and co meaning Lampard really will be expected to perform way better in the league and achieve some kind of cup success.
So the big question is will the transfers work or not ? Nobody can say yes or no with confidence right now but squad additions they've already and likely to make should give them every chance to be best of the rest outside of Liverpool and Man City as only goal difference stopped the Blues getting third last season.
Alternative bets are Man City-Liverpool-Chelsea in the exact top-three order at 13/2 or Liverpool-Man City-Chelsea in the same market at 10/1.
Crystal Palace to be Lowest Premier League Goalscorers (15/2)
Two of the three relegated sides and five of the six clubs that finished below 14th-placed Crystal Palace actually scored more than the Eagles' pathetic total of 31 Premier League goals last season – it's just crazy that Roy Hodgson's team finished nine points clear of relegation despite such a rubbish goal return.
Now I know Palace have signed a near £15m forward in the shape of Ebereci Eze, and that in theory should improve their goal return, but he's young and he's yet to play Premier League level so it's guesswork how that will work out.
When you look at Palace's squad you just don't see that many goals and unless they pull out more transfers I don't see too much improvement this season. It's only 2/1 the Eagles are relegated and that's not quite tempting enough so Palace to be the Lowest Goalscorers at 15/2 does have plenty of scope and appeal.
Everton to earn Over 56 Points (13/8)
Finishing 12th with a total of 25 games either drawn or lost with a -12 goal difference was a disaster for Everton but it wasn't an issue for anybody who followed my advice on backing the Toffees to finish in the bottom-half at 2/1.
Despite the fact that Carlo Ancelotti has had several months to settle into the Everton job and in the process of improving the squad, I was tempted to put up the same selection again but it's only 11/10 this time around and that's too tight.
Everton's final points total last season was a pathetic 49 and surely they'll do better than that this time – Everton to get Over 56 Points is 13/8 and that's just eight points improvement that they have to find from last term. It will be some major fail if they don't achieve it at least in 2020/21 with key new arrivals incoming.
Fulham to Finish Above West Brom (1/1)
Now the last time Fulham were in the Premier League I got them badly wrong in backing them to go well – instead they were relegated with a horrendous goals against record.
I have to say though, it was still good to see them battle and do well last term. I like the way Scott Parker operates and talks with humility, watching them get promoted via the play-offs was good to see.
The Cottagers obviously face a tough task now they are back in the Premier League and it will test everything they have – I can see why they are slight favourites for relegation but I personally can also see them doing a bit bet than many expect.
I don't know if they'll survive but I think they can be at least better West Brom and finish above the Baggies. Evens to do so seems fair enough.
Leeds to be Top Promoted Team (4/9)
I know 4/9 is very short to put up as a season bet but in all honesty, I can't see Leeds not finishing above West Brom and Fulham and I can't see any value in the other available options.
Plenty seem to believe Leeds will take the Premier League by storm – I've heard talk of potential top-four and top-six finishes and for me that just seems madness and hard to justify despite what they did in the Championship and the transfers they've made.
Leeds to Finish Top Half at 2/1 is a far more sensible play if you truly believe they will have a good, solid season and that's far more doable than trying to break into Europe. You could also consider Leeds Over 48 Points at 6/4 for Marcelo Bielsa's men.
Leicester to earn Under 58 Points (5/6)
Leicester received plenty of plaudits last season for finishing fifth and of course Jamie Vardy won Golden Boot honours with his 23-goal haul – I'm happy to say I recommended the latter in last year's ante-post piece at 18/1.
However, finishing fifth on 62 points can, in my opinion, be viewed as a season of what should have been as around Christmas Leicester were comfortably in the top-four and looking certain to achieve way more than their eventual tally. The truth is the Foxes' season fell away in 2020 as their thin squad was hit with key injuries whilst confidence, form and goals vanished.
I look at the Leicester squad and I don't see enough options that can repeat the feat; I don't see a source of goals apart from Vardy, they've sold Ben Chilwell to a rival and, to be honest I don't see a top-six finish for them let alone top-four. So Leicester to earn Under 58 Points looks worth a play.
Liverpool: Sadio Mane to be Top Goalscorer (14/1 each-way)
Liverpool were stunningly dominant last year in having the league basically wrapped up by November and they will no doubt have a major shout at winning the Premier League again this term with the 9/4 set to appeal to plenty.
Now if Liverpool do end up being so incredibly dominant and win it again then I'll pay my respects and applaud them but for me 9/4 isn't a play that tempts me enough.
What we do know for sure about the Reds is that the two main sources of goals are Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. They have their own private goalscoring battle each season and it pushes them both on to want more goals – I'll expect the same this coming season.
Last season Salah finish one goal ahead of Mane with 19 and 18 Premier League goals respectively, but the Top Goalscorer markets for this season have Salah as 5/1 favourite and Mane at 14/1, in my opinion that's too big a difference and Mane looks fantastic each-way value.
Yes, there are a stack of goalscorer contenders in the Premier League but Mane at 14/1 is a risk worth taking.
Manchester City: Raheem Sterling to be Top Goalscorer (12/1 e/w)
When betting on Manchester City it's nearly impossible to get decent odds or prices that appeal as value – all the various options are usually ridiculously short, making it hard to recommend and back.
My City-based selection last season was Kevin De Bruyne to be named PFA Player of the Year and incredibly that's not been declared yet even with the new campaign set to start – hopefully KDB does eventually win it for us.
Anyway, looking at this season, my City-themed bet is Raheem Sterling to be Top Goalscorer each-way at 12/1. He scored 20 league goals last season and will be aiming to better that this term.
I've already put Mane up as a Golden Boot contender and the likes of Harry Kane, Mo Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergio Aguero are all in the mix so it won't be easy but 12/1 each-way with four places up for grabs looks reasonable for Sterling given the way City play and how many chances he'll get.
Manchester United: Man City-Liverpool-Chelsea-Man Utd Exact Finishing Position (14/1)
As a lifelong Manchester United fan frustrated by years of failing and disappointing since Sir Alex retired, I do find it hard to have enthusiasm about what United could achieve and I must say I'm not sure what to expect this season.
Now literally as I write this there is talk of a major signing for the Red Devils and that's good news but the sceptic in me says that United need much more genuine quality if they are to challenge and be anything other than falsely satisfied with a top-four finish.
Finishing third was a big surprise and something I didn't expect last time out; the signing of Bruno Fernandes triggered the surge in form and confidence, the emergence of Mason Greenwood gives great hope, but I don't see a title challenge and I don't see anything other than a fight with Chelsea for third.
Ultimately, I think United will do well to get better of Chelsea this season. I think fourth is booked for the Red Devils and so a Top-Four Exact Order play on Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and United at 14/1 looks worth a punt – combining those four to to be top-four in any order can be backed at 2/1 as a cover bet.
Newcastle United to finish above Aston Villa (5/6)
For a long time last season my selection for Newcastle to be the Lowest Goalscorers scorers was looking to have a real chance but a mid-season upturn in results and goalscoring by Steve Bruce's men saw those hopes vanish and ultimately they finished 10 points clear of relegation in 13th.
The end of the Premier League was disappointing for Toon supporters and then they had months of all the takeover speculation that ultimately didn't happen so there is real concern and worry around Newcastle right now as plenty fear relegation again.
Their lack of goalscorers does mean the Lowest Goalscorer options do have some appeal but I'd expect three or four teams to be worse than the Magpies in that department and I think Bruce can guide them to a similar finish again if allowed to.
Given that I've Aston Villa to get relegated, the 5/6 on Newcastle to finish above Villa makes sense.
Sheffield United to earn Over 43 Points (11/10)
In my opinion, the manager who most deserved Manager of the Year in the Premier League was Chris Wilder after what he did with Sheffield United in their first season back in the Premier League.
To finish ninth was remarkable. For long parts of the season the Blades were much higher; they competed very well with most teams in most matches, they were hard to beat but also played with their own style, they gave everything and brought something different to the league.
The big question is can Sheff Utd get close to doing anything like that again, and to be honest, I don't see them repeating such heroics. They'll have to improve on their 39-league goal return too and they'll have to be able to win or draw tight matches like they did last season.
So I don't expect the Blades to match their 54-point return but I do think they'll be fine and clear of relegation issues. I suspect they can achieve a mid to late 40s points total so Sheffield United Over 43 Points at 11/10 is a bet that I believe Wilder's men will land.
Southampton to Finish Top Half (11/8)
Last season our ante-post play for Southampton was a top-half finish at 5/2 and we missed out by one place and three points as the Saints enjoyed fantastic run in 2020 with Ralph Hasenhuttl inspiring the side following their 9-0 humiliation against Leicester.
To survive that 9-0 and to then turn it around like Southampton did with the incredible goals return of Danny Ings, the main inspiration, was fantastic and I believe that Saints have as a good a chance as any team to be fighting to get in the top-10.
It would be nice to have a bit bigger than 11/8 but I can see why they are that price, equally Southampton Over 49 Points at 11/8 is also worth consideration.
Tottenham to earn Over 65 Points (13/8)
I'm not a Jose Mourinho fan but what can't be denied is that after a slow start to his tenure at Tottenham he has improved results and they do look a different proposition going into this season than they did after their horrible start to last.
Spurs also missed Harry Kane for a big chunk of last season so to finish sixth with 59 points is way better than what looked likely at Christmas.
Tottenham have made a few signings and there seems to be more optimism around the club, much more has to be done but they should have enough to be top-six again and they should improve on their 59-point haul.
Tottenham to earn Over 65 Points at 13/8 only needs Spurs to get seven more points than last term to win and a full season of Mourinho should see that happen.
West Brom to be the Lowest Goalscorers (6/1)
The least goals option is one that I've already put forward for Crystal Palace and that's because I think it's a way of having teams you think can get relegated at bigger odds onside because invariably those struggling for goals are highly likely to be near the bottom.
I do believe that West Brom will struggle badly as their squad just isn't good enough and relegation at 11/10 looks bigger than it should be, indeed I'll be backing that too but the Baggies to be the Lowest Goalscorers at 6/1 looks very big – I just don't see the Albion being prolific in the Premier League.
West Ham to earn Over 44 Points (11/10)
I like David Moyes as a person and for what he's done in the past so it was good to see him do enough to keep West Ham safe last season and I hope they do back him to improve upon that this time around.
The question is what will West Ham do this season and I honestly don't know with confidence but I would think that a full season of Moyes making them harder to play against should continue their slow upturn.
The Hammers picked up 39 points last season and should have scope to get at least six to 10 points more than that, so West Ham to earn Over 44 Points at 11/10 makes sense.
Wolves to Win Without The Big Six (2/1)
Finishing seventh after a season that basically lasted a full year and entertaining in many of their matches was a huge success for Wolves, in my opinion. I think they deserve more credit for what they did.
Wolves admittedly don't have the deepest squad and need to be careful with player sales/recruitment in the coming weeks but if they retain their key players like Raul Jiminez, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Conor Coady, Diego Jota, Adama Traore and of course the services of manager Nuno Espirito Santo then I believe they can have a very strong league season again.
The Old Gold are contenders for the ‘Best of the Rest' title – betting without the traditional Big Six – at 2/1. I'd also given consideration to backing Wolves to be Top Midlands Club at 10/11 – no matter where they finished they'd only have to finish above Leicester and Aston Villa for that to pay off.
These are my Premier League views at the time of writing (1st September), and obviously squads will change in the next fortnight but I feel the current selections are well worth consideration, and offer Premier League followers plenty of interest across all 20 clubs.
I hope this piece adds interest, gives you ideas for your own bets and helps your ante-post thought-process in some way – odds quoted are correct at time of writing from Bet365, William Hill, SkyBet, Ladbrokes and Coral – remember to shop around for the best odds/terms.