WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Premier League: Handicaps
A market which is always worth a look at prior to the season starting is the season Handicap.
Essentially, bookies will offer odds on a virtual points total to be added to each team’s actual points come the end of the season. Once all the handicap points are added to the actual points, the team with the most total points will win the market.
For this season (and most of the previous few), Manchester City go off on a +0 handicap or ‘scratch’. If you think a team is being underrated in the pre-season odds, the handicap market may be a good way of backing them to have a good campaign at higher odds than the more typical winner/top-four angles.
I’ve picked out a team I think fall exactly into the category below.
Chelsea +18 Handicap (12/1 Betfred)
Whatever your opinion on Frank Lampard’s debut season in charge of his beloved Blues, the best is surely yet to come.
Chelsea got most of their impressive summer transfer business done early, brining in Hakim Ziyech to add to their creative options after years of making the Dutch league look easy. The Moroccan, at 27, is arriving at a time you would expect him to be hitting his peak career form which was perhaps much of his new teammates’ problem last season – they are still learning their trade at the top level of football.
Whilst Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic all had great seasons, Lampard was clearly frustrated at their sometimes inconsistent output and resorted to leaving all three out of the starting line-up in an attempt to find the winning formula.
Each of those players, although they may have to share on-pitch time with the squad’s new arrivals, will surely benefit from the increased competition now that the club’s transfer embargo is lifted.
Ziyech was the first through the door at Stamford Bridge having been confirmed mid-season but the Pensioners have also added Timo Werner to the ranks to ensure a more clinical edge in the final third. Although Abraham finished as top scorer with 18 goals, it came across 47 appearances and should Chelsea really want to challenge for the league title or other trophies, they need a higher return.
Werner enjoyed his best goalscoring season at RB Leipzig in 2019-20, finishing on 28 Bundesliga strikes and even bagging four in Europe. A goal on his pre-season debut after just three minutes, set-up by Ziyech, will wet the appetite of Chelsea fans who will hope that in those tight matches, the German’s intelligence in the box will contribute to more wins.
Perhaps the best signing is yet to come though, with the Kai Havertz deal completed last week. The German is one of the hottest properties in world football and will provide a great link between Chelsea’s deeper midfield players and the forward men with his superb range of passing and vision. He’s the sort of player you build teams around and working under perhaps the best midfielder to ever grace the Premier League, he could be set for the top.
In other business, Ben Chilwell arrives from top four rivals Leicester to help fill the void of a problem position at left-back and provide more balance to the defensive structure without the ball, whilst also hoping to replicate his attacking output from the first half of last season.
The England full-back will benefit from playing alongside the evergreen Thiago Silva, who will add much needed Champions League experience to the squad. Silva can still marshal a backline as good as any centre-back and his leadership should help the Londoners keep more clean sheets.
These signings have been brought in on top of an already impressive array of players so you would expect better returns at both ends of the pitch as well as a higher points total than the 66 achieved last time out.
With the strides forward the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are currently making, I think the gap to the top two will be shortened this season and we’ll have a competitive title race for much longer. Given that, the +18 handicap appeals with Betfred, with a top two finish not out of the question.
The handicap on the Blues is as short as +14 with other firms so the +18 gives us a bit more wriggle room come May.
Premier League 2020/21 – Chelsea +18 handicap (12/1 Betfred)