ADAM GOODWIN (@agjournalism) has trawled the various Request-A-Bet style offerings from across the industry and delivered his three favourite fancies ahead of the big 2018/19 season kick-off.
The Safe Play – 16/1 (BetVictor #priceitup)
- Tottenham not to finish in the top-four
- Bournemouth to finish in the bottom-half
- Huddersfield to be relegated
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Roberto Firmino to score Over 16.5 Goals each
Preparations for the new season haven’t been ideal for Tottenham. Almost half of their squad won’t return from their holidays until a week before the season starts due to their participation in the World Cup. This means that most of Spurs’ best XI won’t have played a pre-season friendly.
Mauricio Pochettino has also failed to sign any players so far this transfer window and resting on your laurels in the Premier League can be a dangerous thing. With other sides around them getting stronger, I’d fancy the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal to pip Tottenham to a top-four spot.
Bournemouth have also been fairly inactive in the transfer window. Eddie Howe has worked wonders with the Cherries in the past, guiding them to ninth in 2016/17, but since then they’ve been on a slight decline. Their possession-based game doesn’t seem to be as effective as it once was, and another top-half finish seems unlikely, especially with teams such as Wolves and Leicester adding undoubted quality to their squads.
Huddersfield unbelievably survived relegation last season, however, I have a feeling the Terries may come down with a bout of ‘second season syndrome'. Some good signings have been made, but after scoring the joint-fewest goals last season, they still lack a proven Premier League striker.
I think Town will need a miracle if they want to avoid relegation again – especially if the in-demand David Wagner is poached by another club mid-season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang averaged over 19 goals a season in the Bundesliga during his time at Dortmund and scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games last season. He’s now settled-in in England and would fancy himself to fire in a fair few for the Gunners in 2018/19.
Since joining Liverpool, Roberto Firmino has continuously been improving on his previous season’s goal tally. He never quite reached 17 goals in a single league campaign but with the likes of Naby Keita and Fabinho now behind him, he’ll never have a better opportunity to do just that.
The Mid-Ranger – 66/1 (Betway #betyourway)
- Middlesbrough to win promotion
- Brentford to finish in the top-six
- West Brom to finish bottom-half
- Rotherham to be relegated
Tony Pulis was appointed as Middlesbrough manager midway through last season and, whilst he didn’t succeed in promotion at the first time of asking, they look a great bet to go up this year.
Pulis had already inherited an impressive squad from Garry Monk and he’s managed to add to this with Aden Flint and Paddy McNair – two players that fit his direct and robust style of football. Back Pulis to achieve his third EFL promotion this season.
For the last few seasons, Brentford have been one of those teams that have been floating around the top-six without having a real shot at promotion to the Premier League. Dean Smith has been in charge for almost three years now and he’s recently said that he “quietly believes” that his side can challenge the bigger spending teams for promotion.
With a settled squad and an experienced manager, top-six should be the minimum expected of Brentford.
This next bet is one of the riskier selections but bear with me… Let’s not forget how dreadful West Brom were last season. They may have had a slight resurgence when Darren Moore took over but that ‘new manager bounce' is usually expected.
The Baggies have bought in Sam Johnstone, Kyle Bartley and Harvey Barnes – all of whom are good signings – but they still have a relatively small squad, especially if Craig Dawson, Nacer Chadli and Salomon Rondon are to leave. The Championship is constantly getting stronger and I don’t think West Brom have the right players or manager to challenge the top-half this season.
Former fitness coach Paul Warne was appointed as temporary Rotherham manager in December 2016 and did a superb job in ensuring that they bounced-back to the Championship at the first time of asking. His inexperience, however, could lead to the Millers’ yo-yoing continuing.
Both Wigan and Blackburn, who were also both promoted, have strengthened significantly and I feel Rotherham have been slightly left behind in the transfer market. I think they’re rightly favourites for the drop.
The Long Shot – 209/1 (BetVictor treble)
- Brentford, Coventry and Grimsby to make the play-offs
At over 200/1, it’s safe to say this one’s a long shot, but I think it’s definitely worth a couple of quid!
I’ve already written about Brentford and how I’m pretty keen on them finishing in the top-six. Along with my earlier points, they’ve also managed to keep hold of Chris Mepham, Ryan Woods and Ollie Watkins despite rumoured interest from Premier League clubs. The 4/1 on them to make the play-offs looks a great price.
Coventry only won promotion from League Two last season but after some great business in the transfer window, the Sky Blues look in a great position to be challenging at the top of League One this season. Despite losing Marc McNulty to Reading, the addition of Shrewsbury’s Abu Ogogo and Junior Brown show they mean business.
Mark Robins is an EFL veteran after spells at Barnsley, Huddersfield and Scunthorpe and his experience could be vital in Coventry’s fight for promotion this season. Teams promoted from League Two have finished in the top-half in their first season 50% of the time since 2005/06 but, at 5/1, I like the look of Coventry to go one step further and make the play-offs this season.
At 45/1, Grimsby are certainly a longshot to finish anywhere near the top of the table, but I fancy the Mariners to surprise a few people this season. Relegation looked an ominous possibility towards the end of last season, but the appointment of Michael Jolley reinvigorated the squad and the 41-year-old lifted them to 14th by the end of the campaign.
The Mariners can now take that momentum into this season and, with the impressive additions of newly appointed captain John Welsh and centre-back Harry Davis, perhaps Jolley can continue surprising and direct his side into the play-offs.
Note: This is to make the play-offs, not to finish in the top-six.