WE'RE delighted to have Tommy Buckley (@TBuckleyThinks) contributing to WeLoveBetting and in his debut column, he looks at supplying a best bet for all 20 Premier League sides ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
WLB Season Preview 2018/19 | Premier League: Best Bets For Every Club
For many the biggest, most enjoyable betting challenge comes before a single ball is kicked via tackling the ever-increasing range of ante-post betting markets.
The challenge of trying 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 challenge.
The unknown creates excitement and anticipation and returning profit after 10 months of action and hundreds of games is one of the sweetest feeling in football punting.
Five years ago I gave the whole ante-post field a great deal of thought and wondered what I could do to really test myself, to look beyond the obvious markets and to have an interest in EVERY team, instead of just a select few. After much thought I came up with the idea of trying to find a valid and interesting ante-post angle on all 20 Premier League teams.
I have to say that although it's proven to be a demanding challenge each year, it's also proven to be greatly rewarding, adding a great deal of value to my football viewing and punting experience.
So with the 2018/19 Premier League season due to start soon, I've again taken on the challenge once again. I've scoured the markets and burnt the midnight oil to come up with this piece that hopefully interests you, gets your mind thinking and possibly excites you enough to take on the same challenge.
I'd advise you to shop around for the best prices.
Arsenal – Over 70 points (6/5)
The Premier League will see a whole host of clubs with new managers but few, if any, managerial appointments are more interesting and fascinating than that of Unai Emery taking over at Arsenal to replace the departed Arsene Wenger.
Personally speaking, I think it's a fantastic appointment and one that should give the Gunners the ability to still play attacking football but also have the structure of organised, planned tactics. And so, while I don't expect enough improvement to win the title, I do believe Arsenal will comfortably improve upon last season’s tally of 63 points.
Based on that, I believe the Total Points market offers interest and I feel that Arsenal to get Over 70 Points at 6/5 is reasonable given they'd only have to improve on last season by eight points.
Following a campaign in which they lost a staggering 13 league games, there is plenty of scope to see a decent improvement in the points return.
Bournemouth – +42 handicap (15/1 each-way) and Over 43 Points (11/8)
I must admit and hold my hands up to this one, I genuinely couldn't put together a conclusive case for any of the markets at smaller odds for Bournemouth as they are one of those sides that could go either way.
But on the balance of how they play, and given they've comfortably survived another season in the Premier League, I believe they can progress again.
Bournemouth to get Over 43 Points at 11/8 really does look solid to me and of those shorter-priced options it looks the best value, however, I do like to take a few risky punts when doing this challenge so I'm going to go for the Cherries each-way at 15/1 in the Handicap market with +42 points where four places are on offer.
Bournemouth achieved 44 points last season and I think they can boost that this season by six to eight points. If they can do that then the +42 start would give them a lively each-way chance, at least in the handicap.
Brighton – Brighton to be Relegated 5/2
Last season I'll accept that Brighton fans had the last laugh with me after I napped the Seagulls at 5/6 to get relegated. However, Chris Hughton inspired the Seasiders to be solid, well organised and in the end they finished seven points clear of the drop.
Brighton bust my NAP bet last season so I won't make them my best bet this time around but what I can't resist doing is backing Brighton for Relegation again – this time at a much better price of 5/2.
I just feel they lack goals and I believe they'll struggle to match what they did last year. If they do, they'll definitely be in the bottom-three mix so 5/2 may well look overpriced in a few weeks time.
Burnley – Over 44 Points (5/4)
Without question the selection that made me look most stupid last season was my fancy for Burnley to get relegated. Has anybody ever tipped a side for relegation and then watched them have a storming season to finish seventh? I can't deny it was a stinking tip.
Ahead of this season I've seen a lot of negative media coverage of Burnley, with many suggesting they could struggle, including some who have suggested Burnley will get relegated. Incredibly, some firms have the Clarets at shorter odds to go down than Newcastle!
I do believe Burnley need to add more quality – especially creativity/goals -before the transfer window closes if they want to match or better their 54 point total from last term.
I think they might fall a few short of that this year but I certainly don't expect a desperate struggle, Sean Dyche will still have them well organised and I believe Burnley to get Over 44 Points at 5/4 is worth taking.
Cardiff – Cardiff to be Relegated (4/6) and Under 34 Points (6/5)
Sorry Cardiff fans but I really don't see any other outcome for your team this year apart from a desperate struggle to earn points. Unfortunately, I don't see any other outcome other than relegation for Neil Warnock's side.
I simply don't believe that Warnock can inspire Cardiff to stay up and I don't believe they have the required quality so the Bluebirds to suffer relegation at 4/6, while short, could actually be even shorter.
The other Cardiff-based option that has plenty of merit is City to get Under 34 Points at 6/5 – the three relegated teams last term picked up 33, 33 and 31 points and I don't see Warnock’s men bettering those returns.
Chelsea – Chelsea not to make the top four (6/5)
What will actually happen at Chelsea this season? The honest answer is that nobody knows and that's because of all the uncertainty regarding the new manager Maurizio Sarri taking over a squad which could yet be taken apart in the transfer window.
Right now, nothing is for certain, particularly regarding Edin Hazard, Thibout Courtois and Willian’s futures at Stamford Bridge. Will they be here at the start of the season, or indeed by the time the European transfer window shuts at the end of the month?
If Chelsea do keep their key players then they should have a very good season but based on what we know right now, I don't believe Chelsea should be odds-on to finish in the top-four.
Therefore, Chelsea Not To Make The Top Four at 6/5 is the bet given that Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd and Tottenham all look more likely, in my opinion.
Crystal Palace – Over 45 Points (13/10)
Having witnessed Crystal Palace sit on zero points after seven league games last season, I'm still stunned that they finished with 44 points and 11th in the Premier League – Roy Hodgson deserves great praise for achieving that.
With regards to this season, then it appears that the perspective on the Eagles’ hopes have changed somewhat – seven days ago many were predicting a campaign of great struggle again but now a few signings later, the future looks much more positive for Palace.
Many will claim that Palace's hopes revolve around what happens to Wilfried Zaha – clearly it will be a huge blow if he is sold. But Palace still got 44 points from 31 games last season and I believe their squad will be good enough to get Over 45 Points this time around and it’s 13/10 to happen again.
Everton – Everton to finish in the bottom-half (2/1), Cenk Tosun to be top Everton goalscorer (6/4)
I opened my piece on Chelsea by saying “what will actually happen this season?” and that is most definitely something that has to be asked of Everton, because the appointment of Marco Silva, combined with what has so far been a limited transfer window, leaves me puzzled as to what to expect from the Toffees.
Everton achieved a total of 49 points and secured eighth place last season despite their early season struggles. Plenty are suggesting the appointment of Silva will breath new life into the club and that the Merseysiders will be much better this term.
However, I have to say that I'm unconvinced. Yes, the football should be better but how that translates into actual results, I don't know. On balance, I think it could well be worth risking taking the 2/1 on offer for Everton to finish in the bottom-half – I certainly wouldn't want to entertain the 4/11 on a top half finish.
Another Everton-based bet to consider is Cenk Tosun to be Top Everton Team Scorer at 6/4 as I don't see who else in the Everton squad will score more, assuming Tosun stays fit all season.
Fulham – Fulham to be Top Promoted Club (11/4)
As a football fan I did enjoy watching Fulham last year and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing how they go on in the Premier League this season.
The Cottagers’ transfer business certainly signals plenty of intent to give it a really good go and that's refreshing to see. The signings of Fabri, Jean Michel Seri, Aleksandr Mitrovic, Andre Schurrle and Alfie Mawson have seen Fulham strengthen every department of their squad.
With talk of more business to be done, I believe Slavisa Jokanovic can guide the Londoners to a very good campaign and I like the look of Fulham to be Top Promoted Club at 11/4 – that market is only a three-horse race and 11/4 on Fulham to finish above Wolves and Cardiff looks fair enough, to me.
Huddersfield – Huddersfield To Score The Fewest Goals (5/1)
Huddersfield surviving was one of the stories of the season with their late surge of points, almost hard to believe. And when you break it down, it's even harder to believe how they survived.
The Terriers only scored 28 league goals – the joint lowest with Swansea – they lost half of their 38 games and failed to score in 17 so surely the 5/1 on offer for Town to To Score The Fewest Goals is a bet that offers plenty of value.
I just don't know where Huddersfield's goals will come from.
Leicester – Jamie Vardy to be Top Goalscorer (40/1 each-way)
If you had told me back in April that Claude Puel would still be manager of Leicester then I really wouldn't have believed you given all the negative coverage but he's still there and looks set to guide the Foxes through this season ahead.
What this new season brings for Leicester at this stage looks a little uncertain given they've sold their best player Riyad Mahrez and could potentially lose Harry Maguire. However, despite that the Foxes should have enough to do a fair job in the Premier League again.
None of the Top Half/Bottom Half or Points Total markets appealed to me from a Leicester perspective, they won't win the league but neither will they be relegated. Ultimately, the only thing I'm sure of is that Jamie Vardy will be their star player and their main source of goals – he's a 20+ goal a season striker and at 40/1 in the Top Goalscorer market, there is enough each-way value to make it worth the risk.
Liverpool – Over 80 Points (6/5)
The Liverpool board have backed Jurgen Klopp to the hilt this summer, getting a range of top quality signings into Anfield including Alisson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, to leave the the Reds’ squad looking ready for a serious title bid.
That appears to be the general perception and undoubtedly right now Liverpool look to have much more about them than Man Utd, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in terms of talent – the big question is, can the Merseysiders finally deliver a big trophy again?
There was a 25-point gap between Man City and the Reds last season, so while Liverpool will improve, I don't see them closing the gap enough to win the title.
What they can do though is definitely achieve more points than the 75 points tabled and that's why I really like the look of Liverpool to get Over 80 Points at 6/5.
Klopp’s charges had 12 draws last season, just three of those turned into draws would give them an extra six points and I'd be surprised if Liverpool can't break the 80-point barrier.
Manchester City – Sergio Aguero to be Top Goalscorer (8/1)
I'm personally a lifelong Manchester United fan but I have no problem in saying that Manchester City were supremely brilliant last season and a real joy to watch. If you truly like football, you couldn't not enjoy what City offered.
Last term was all about breaking records on all fronts – most points and goals, generally jus better at everything than the rest and I have to expect the same from the Citizens this season. Unless it goes very badly wrong, I don't see how City will fail to retain their title.
I expect Pep Guardiola’s men to win the league again but I'm not going to put thm up at the 4/6 quoted. Instead I'm going to put forward backing star striker Sergio Aguero to be the Top Premier League Goalscorer AS 8/1 represents great each-way value.
Assuming Aguero stays fit, I just don't see how another four strikers will score more than him, and I personally think he'll top them all. Another Man City/Aguero based bet is combining Man City to win the league and Aguero to be top goalscorer at 12/1.
Manchester United – Alexis Sanchez to be Top Goalscorer (33/1)
I'm a lifelong Manchester United fan but I'm really not looking forward to the new season with all the negativity of Jose Mourinho and his horrendous football strangling the spirit out of the club.
I'll admit, I find it harder to be truly objective about United with Mourinho in charge, generally speaking I don't expect a title challenge but I do expect a top-four finish – not that it means anything to me as a fan, but it's something that they should be achieving at a bare minimum.
So it is tough to find betting value from a United perspective but perhaps a seemingly rejuvenated and physically sharp Alexis Sanchez gives the side some hope and if he fires at his very best the 33/1 available on him for Top Goalscorer would offer plenty of each way value, worth consideration for a small bet.
Newcastle – Newcastle to be relegated (11/2)
Going into the new season there surely isn't a Premier League club with more negativity surrounding it than Newcastle and right now it's very hard to believe that this season will have anything but a very, very unhappy ending for the Magpies.
Rafa Benitez isn't happy as he knows he has a very limited squad to work with, the fans are massively disgruntled with the owner, players have been sold but very few bought, they've lost a key player to a long-term injury and overall it looks bad whichever way you look at it.
Given all of this, I expected to find around 3/1 for Newcastle to get relegated but you can actually still get 11/2 – yes 11/2! For me, that has to be taken because it will collapse if the Toon have a bad start.
Although very short, the absolute banker bet involving Newcastle looks to be the Magpies to finish in the bottom-half at 2/5. I honestly think that should be a lot shorter given the state of the club right now and without any obvious signs it will improve.
Southampton – Mohamed Elyounoussi to be Top Southampton Scorer (10/1)
When it comes to a lot of season previews – and generally speaking media responses – it definitely feels like plenty of people do not like or value Mark Hughes as a manager and they base their predictions on their dislike of Mark Hughes.
Yes, Hughes has had troubled spells at clubs that have ended up getting relegated. Of course he's been partly responsible for what's happened but I honestly don't think he's as bad a manager as most make out and I believe Southampton will see improvement under him.
I believe Hughes did a great job to keep Saints up and I think he will kick-on with them this season. They’ll be nothing spectacular in terms of position or points return but definitely better football and further up the standings.
The transfers Southampton have made definitely do seem to have gone under the radar but I think the addition of Mohamed Elyounoussi could prove to be a key signing and I like the look of taking a punt on him to be Top Southampton Scorer at 10/1.
He’s scored 20+ goals over the last two seasons and Southampton don't really have anybody who scores loads of goals. Elyounoussi has a lot of talent, and is in my opinion, capable of getting 10+ goals in the Premier League, enough to land this bet.
Tottenham – Tottenham to finish in the top-four (4/5)
‘Tottenham are yet to sign any players and that means they will struggle’ seems to be the general consensus amongst the media and fans but I personally think that's being disrespectful to Mauricio Pochettino and the talented Spurs squad who have been very consistent over the last few seasons.
Tottenham already have a very, very strong first XI and some very good back-up players. Yes, they could do with a few more top level signings but when you've got Hary Kane, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Son Heung-Min, Dele Ali, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Victor Wanyama and the rest, there is still plenty of quality there to do a very good job again.
Spurs achieved the top-four with comfort last term, finishing third and seven points clear of fifth and I see no reason why they can't repeat the feat.
Based on what we know right now, they are more likely to finish top-four than their main rivals Chelsea and Arsenal who have bigger questions to answer and more doubts. Spurs to finish top-four 4 at 4/5 looks solid enough, to me.
Watford – Watford to get Under 39 Points (1/1)
I won't beat around the bush with my views on Watford ahead of this season, and quite honestly, I'll be surprised if they don't struggle and won't at all be surprised if they actually end up getting relegated.
The Hornets continue to be a very strange club – they constantly change their manager and are annually involved in plenty of transfer business, both in and out, all of that making it impossible for long-term stability. And the way they finished last season off has to be incredibly worrying for their fans…
You can get 2/1 on Watford going down and that could end up looking huge – I also really like the look of Watford to get Under 39 Points at even-money. The Hornets only collected 41 last season after a decent start and we only need them to get three fewer for our points bet to collect.
West Ham – West Ham United +36 Handicap (15/1)
If the season was decided on pre-season transfer business and general feel good factor then West Ham would probably be in the top three after what's been a fascinating sequence of events, with a top-class manager being appointed and several decent signings being made.
Nobody yet knows how the additions will combine but adding Jack Wilshire, Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko plus others all being managed by the excellent Manuel Pellegrini should mean the Hammers will be set for a good season.
West Ham achieved 42 points last season – the appointment of Pellegrini and the top transfers should see West Ham improve that by at least 10 to 15 points – if that's the case that takes them to 52 to 57 points, and for me, that makes the handicap quotes of West Ham +36 points very interesting at 15/1 with four places on offer.
Another West Ham bet to consider is Marko Arnautovic to be Top West Ham Goalscorer at 7/4.
Wolves – Over 48 points (5/4)
‘Wolves can make top 4’, ‘Wolves are nailed on top half’, ‘Wolves can make Europe’ are all quotes I've heard on various phone-in shows this summer and from the outside looking in at all the talent being signed, it’s easy to see why.
I fully accept that they could be right, after all Wolves were incredibly dominant in the Championship like season and have stepped it up again adding plenty of quality, undoubtedly it's going to be exciting seeing Wolves in action in the Premier League.
Having said all of that I personally don't have a conclusive view on exactly what the Old Gold will actually achieve but given the talent they have they should definitely have no fears about surviving and consolidating.
48 points was enough for a top 10 finish last year and Wolves to get Over 48 Points at 5/4 looks a safe way to have an interest in Wolves.
Admittedly plenty can and will change in terms of transfers but right now given everything we know the above bets noted are the ante-post bets that I feel are worth consideration, and offer a valid interest in all 20 Premier League clubs.
I hope the piece adds interest, gives you ideas for your own bets and help – the odds quoted are correct at the time of writing and remember to shop around for the best terms you can find.