PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Dan McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) shares his thoughts on the Outright Winner market ahead of the 2018/19 season.
WLB Season Preview 2018/19 | Premier League: Winner
The obvious call here is to say that the odds are about right; Manchester City proved themselves to be comfortably the best side in the Premier League last season and they are certainly worthy favourites this term. While I wouldn't be backing the Citizens at 8/11 (BetStars) to retain the title myself, I couldn't put you off them.
The only side I can see challenging Pep's men are Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. Before we analyse the Merseyside club, it is worth considering the other pretenders.
Manchester United (11/1 BlackType) finished – a distant – second last season but it's hard to foresee Jose Mourinho's side getting any closer this time around. Recruitment has been expensive and a bid of £65m for Harry Maguire – who Leicester paid £17m for a year ago is hard to fathom.
Additionally, Mourinho looks to be up to his old tricks, slating his current players in public and suggesting he won't get the personnel he requires in.
Tottenham (22/1 BlackType) are yet to sign a player themselves and – in an admittedly small sample size – I believe the gap to themselves and City was clearly exposed in their meetings last season. I simply don't believe their current side has sufficient quality to mount a title challenge.
The Chelsea managerial-merry-go-round has continued, with Antonio Conte departing after two years at the club. His fellow Italian, Maurizio Sarri, hopes to repeat his feat and win the title at the first time of asking. There are worse bets out there than the 18/1 (BlackType) on the Blues but I think Conte inherited a better side – and worse league – than his compatriot.
You'd have to add at least one zero to Arsenal's current price of 25/1 (Ladbrokes) for the title to convince me that men were value.
All of this leaves, well, Liverpool as the sole side I can see ousting City. At 4/1 (Ladbrokes) I think Klopp's men are therefore worth a few quid.
They may have finished 25 points behind City, but they certainly had the Citizens number when they faced them: winning three of their four encounters last season. Additionally, I really like their work in the transfer market. Fabinho and Naby Keita are excellent additions while the signing of Alisson will surely ensure that the goalkeeping spot is a problem position of the past.
City remain formidable and I am not going to waste energy trying to make a case for title winners finding it difficult to follow it up; if Liverpool are to win the league they will need to get more than 90 points but I feel that this side is more than capable of doing so.
You can get 4/1 on them to win the title with a third of the odds for an each-way bet. With profit made for second place, I think this is excellent value.
Liverpool beat Manchester United 4-1 in a pre-season friendly last week and while you shouldn't read too much into what was a United side that will bear little resemblance to what you will see when the league season begins, the attitude of Mourinho would concern me if I was a United fan.
He seems to be constantly spoiling for a fight, be it with his own players, opposition managers or the media. He's always been a spiky individual but his current attitude feels similar to that at the end of his Chelsea reigns.
Moreover, David De Gea was comfortably United's best player last term and with Chelsea likely to mount a greater challenge under Sarri, I like the look of the 5/2 Boylesports are offering on United failing to make the top four.
2018/19 Premier League – Liverpool to win outright (4/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
2018/19 Premier League – Manchester United to finish outside the top four (5/2 Boylesports)