PREMIER LEAGUE fanatic Tommy Buckley (@TBuckleyThinks) returns with his always-enjoyable ante-post feature, finding a value bet to follow across all 20 top-flight teams in the 2019/20 campaign.
WLB Season Preview 2019/20 | Premier League: Best 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 2019/20 Premier League season just days away now, I've once again taken on the challenge. Obviously, with the transfer window still open, please consider these bets are recommended on what we know right now, and of course, please bet responsibly and shop around for the best prices/terms.
Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be Top Goalscorer (8/1 e/w)
Last season Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished joint-top Premier League goalscorer with 22 goals and while the Top Goalscorer market is seriously competitive, I believe it's fascinating and very tempting to find you can get 8/1 on the Gabon international taking top honours once more.
Yes, the little snippets of transfer news around him are a little worrying but assuming Aubameyang stays in the Premier League then the 8/1 looks great for an each-way bet with four places on offer – I wouldn't back four competitors to finish above him.
Aston Villa – Top Promoted Team (1/1)
So far in this transfer window, no club has shown more intent and determination to get business done than Aston Villa with £100m+ spent and possibly more to come.
Of course, Fulham failed last year despite a similar spending splurge but Aston Villa's recruitment looks balanced and well structured. Every department of the squad has been strengthened with quality that should give the Claret & Blue every chance of enjoying a solid season.
How Aston Villa start the season will be important but they really do look set to give it a real go, and for me, Villa to be Top Promoted Team at even-money looks very good, I'd be hugely surprised if Norwich and Sheffield United finished above Dean Smith's men.
Bournemouth – Callum Wilson to be Top Bournemouth Goalscorer (4/5)
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe probably has Callum Wilson staying fit right up amongst his main hopes for the 2019/20 campaign. Assuming the England international remains fit and healthy, then he should be well in amongst the goals yet again.
Last season Wilson was top Premier League goalscorer for the Cherries with 14 strikes from 22 appearances, scoring more and playing less than his main club's goalscoring rival Josh King.
Unless Bournemouth suddenly pull a new striker out of the transfer window then I'd fully expect Wilson to be the main man and you can get 4/5 on the hitman to again top the Cherries' goalscoring charts – I'd say only injury stops that collecting.
Burnley – Burnley to finish higher than Brighton (4/5)
I must confess, I always find it hard to assess what Burnley might do, other than enough to survive. It's hard to assess the Clarets in terms of a potential points or goals range, we just know they'll be competitive under Sean Dyche.
That makes it hard to find ante-post markets that offer great value for Burnley, but generally speaking the signing of Jay Rodriguez gives the Lancashire club an extra element in attack, so they really should have enough to survive again, ending in the 12th-15th range.
For me, that means the Clarets should finish above the likes of Norwich and Brighton for example, and so Burnley to finish higher than Brighton at 4/5 looks fair enough.
Brighton – Brighton to score the fewest Premier League goals (6/1)
This recommended play has already been clipped from 13/2 quotes and I wouldn't be too surprised to see the 6/1 shorten up before the start of the season.
Quite simply, Brighton only survived last season because there were somehow three worse teams. The Seagulls were really poor and only scored 35 league goals – two of the relegated teams scored fewer and every other Premier League team apart from the bottom-three notched at least 10 more goals.
Albion do have a new manager with a more attacking philosophy but right now they only really have 36-year-old striker Glen Murray and I don't see where their goals may come from – that 6/1 on Brighton to score the fewest goals looks fantastic value.
Chelsea – Chelsea to finish outside the top-four (4/6)
The appointment of club legend Frank Lampard guarantees that Frank Lampard's Chelsea will get maximum support from the media and so there won't be the same level of negativity surrounding Stamford Bridge this season. But the loss of Eden Hazard is a far bigger worry than golden boy Lampard might have anticipated.
Hazard was basically the reason Chelsea won games and he was their main source of creating and scoring. So the Blues losing their standout star, along with hiring an inexperienced manager who has yet to manage a squad that can't be improved, surely has to set alarm bells ringing.
The media will have you believe that Lampard is an inspired choice but I don't agree and I don't see him succeeding. Therefore, Chelseat to finish outside the top-four looks solid – you can also get the Blues to finish fifth at 4/1, or Chelsea finish sixth at 7/1, if you want bigger prices to cheer on.
Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace to be Bottom London Club (2/5)
Yes I know 2/5 is very short for an ante-post bet but I just don't think Crystal Palace are very good, and there is no way I see them finishing above any of Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham or Arsenal. So take the 2/5 and sit back knowing you are onto a winner with a long-term investment that pays better than the banks.
if Wilfred Zaha is sold, you have to also consider the Eagles for relegation at 5/1, and 12/1 to be the lowest Premier League goalscorers this term.
Everton – Everton to finish in the bottom-half (2/1)
A brief glance at the final 2018/19 standings shows Everton finished eighth, and yes they concluded their campaign unbelievably well with huge wins against the big teams.
However that eighth place was secured with 54 points, only four more than Watford in 11th and five more than a very average Crystal Palace team in 12th. I believe there is scope to suggest the Toffees are vulnerable this term.
Right now, Everton look to have issues in central defence, their best player Idrissa Gueye is on his way out and they don't possess a proven goalscorer. Unless Marco Silva is able to really bolster his squad, they will arrive looking unbalanced and a little weak in places. The Merseysiders' place in the top half therefore looks vulnerable.
With Leicester and West Ham looking much better placed to improve, it would only take a Watford, Bournemouth or Southampton to enjoy a really good season to see Everton drop outside of the top-10 and fail to justify their short pre-season prices. The 2/1 on a bottom-half finish looks much better value.
Leicester – Jamie Vardy to be Top Goalscorer (18/1 e/w)
Last season Jamie Vardy made it quite clear he wasn't happy with Claude Puel and the tactics employed by the French boss. The board listened and made a bold and ambitious move to appoint Brendan Rodgers.
Once Rodgers was in situ, Vardy was like a new signing. The Vardy from the title-winning season returning and the former England ace was back threatening defences and scoring goals, linking up well with James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.
With Maddison and Tielemans back in the creative roles, there is real scope for Vardy to be amongst the goals again. And given he was only a few goals off the top four places last year, Jamie Vardy to be Top Goalscorer at 18/1 each-way has to appeal as fair value.
Liverpool – Mohamed Salah to be Top Liverpool Goalscorer (8/11)
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shared the goalscoring honours last year with 22 league goals each and you would have to expect they'll be Liverpool's main threats again this term.
Judged on last season's figures alone, the 9/4 on offer for Mane to be Top Liverpool Goalscorer as opposed to the 8/11 for Salah looks large. However, Salah's 22-goal haul came after a stunning 32-goal campaign and you'd have to believe the Egyptian has real scope for many more this time around; I get the impression that it might be tough for Mane to match his own exploits as he didn't get close to that tally the season before.
Salah to be Top Liverpool Goalscorer at 8/11 is solid enough. For those looking for bigger prices, you can consider Salah to be Top Premier League Goalscorer at 5/1, or Salah to net Over 25 Premier League goals at 2/1.
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne to be PFA Player of the Year (9/1)
Manchester City were sensational once again last season with Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, plus Bernardo and David Silva all starring but despite their brilliance it did still feel like there was something extra special missing with Kevin De Bruyne missing large chunks of the campaign through injury.
Now that Eden Hazard has left the Premier League, I'm of the opinion that De Bruyne is the very best player in the league, and as long as he stays fit, I'd expect him to be the real star influence with goals, great passing and assists galore. The Belgian to be PFA Player of the Year at 9/1 looks worth risking.
An alternative City bet would be Aguero to be Top Manchester City Goalscorer at even-money.
Manchester United – Top 4 Exact Order : Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man Utd (20/1)
Watching Manchester United for the last six years has been painful, frustrating and boring beyond belief – there is still plenty of work to do before the Red Devils can get back to the very top.
Going into this season, nobody can be certain about what will happen at Old Trafford with so much uncertainty and negativity surrounding the club. However, I really don't want to be down again so I'm going to take a flyer that United make the top-four and take a value punt that they finish exactly fourth behind Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham, in that order.
I don't see how given the uncertainty around Chelsea and Arsenal, that they can be confidently predicted to finish above United, while I totally expect City, Liverpool and Spurs to make up the top-three in order.
Call me mad, and send for the doctors, but the Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man United exact order finish is a daft punt worth a small risk at 20/1.
Newcastle – Newcastle to score the fewest goals (15/2)
I have admittedly already used this market to cover Brighton for the season but like the Seagulls, I fancy Newcastle to struggle badly in attack. I managed to take 6/1 on the Geordies to be relegated before Rafa Benitez left – they are now only 9/4 and so a recommendation on relegation wasn't coming at that price.
Steve Bruce has taken over and that will steady the ship a little, but the Magpies are a club in a mess with serious negativity surrounding St James' Park. Newcastle's main sources of goals from last season have departed, and whilst reinforcements have been sought, I wonder how they'll cope with what looks a very poor squad.
Norwich – Norwich to be relegated (5/4)
Norwich fans can reading this can console themselves with the fact the relegation market hasn't really been kind to me in the last few years. Nevertheless, I have to say when I looked at the market I anticipated the Canaries to be odds-on for the drop and so I had to do a double-take when 5/4 was offered.
Norwich were fantastically exciting and entertaining in the Championship last year -, their matches were filled with goals and the Canaries won more matches in the final five minutes than some divisional rivals managed across the whole campaign.
Even so, the huge negative for the Norfolk outfit is their defensive record. I simply don't see how Norwich can cope in the Premier League with such a porous backline.
Norwich can't be set up to defend – they aren't good enough – and with all three relegated clubs last year conceded 69 goals or more, I'd say their defences were at the same level as the Canaries are now, and so I just don't see how Daniel Farke's men can survive.
Sheffield United – Sheffield United to finish higher than Norwich (5/4)
Outside of the Premier League, no manager impressed me more than Sheffield United's Chris Wilder and so it's fantastic to see him in the top-flight with his beloved Blades.
Wilder's already stated several times that the entire club know that it will be a seriously tough season but I'd love Sheffield United to really have a good go at it, and I've faith they can defy the negativity of the pundits (and bookmakers) who have United down to finish rock-bottom.
The Blades have been recruiting smartly and sensibly to strengthen their squad; they've added the experience of Phil Jagielka to lead from the back and attacking creativity/goalscoring options from the cream of the Championship. For me, that's enough to think Sheffield United can at least finish higher than Norwich, and it wouldn't even surprise me if they did enough to survive.
Southampton – Southampton to finish in the top-half (5/2)
Last season's Premier League table shows you that Southampton only finished on 39 points in 16th – and so when you see me mention Saints as a top-half prospect, you might think I'm struggling. But there is method behind the apparent madness, as I believe Ralph Hasenhuttl can guide this group to a much better season.
Southampton have added interesting attacking quality in Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo, whilst also permanently signing Danny Ings. Backed up by the likes of Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Michael Obafemi, Stuart Armstrong and Oriol Romeu, I really like the idea of this Southampton side to have an excellent campaign, and I think it's worth risking the 5/2 on Saints to finish in the top-half too.
Tottenham – Top 3 Exact Order: Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham (6/1)
The bet I put forward for Manchester United mentioned that I like the look of Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham to be the top three teams as part of a top-four prediction, and so it makes sense to include the bet for Spurs too at 6/1 with City and Liverpool expected to finish in similar positions.
I don't see any of Chelsea, United or Arsenal being good enough (or consistent enough) to stop Tottenham finishing third.
Watford – Watford to finish higher than Crystal Palace (5/6)
There was only a one-point gap between Watford and Crystal Palace last season but I believe that was largely down to the distractions the Hornets endured whilst en-route to the FA Cup final – there's no doubt their Premier League performances suffered during their cup exploits.
Watford are yet to make any significant moves in the transfer market but with the likes of Troy Deeney, Andre Gray, Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra, Etienne Capoue and Will Hughes still at Vicarage Road, the Hornets already have the quality to match their very solid last season.
I believe Watford can progress again. They certainly look a more solid and balanced option to Crystal Palace and so Javi Gracia's group to finish ahead of Palace at 5/6 looks fair.
West Ham – West Ham +38 handicap (15/1 e/w)
For those who read my article last season, I opted for a risk with the Handicap market, putting up West Ham as I believed the club could progress under Manuel Pellegrini. Looking at the transfers the Hammers have made this summer, I feel the same air of positivity coming into 2019/20.
West Ham finished with 52 points last season and I honestly feel they could well have gotten 10+ more with a bit more quality and composure at the right times.
The signings of Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller have the Hammers fans excited – they will add plenty of extra creativity and goalscoring threat and so I really think West Ham can push on again. Beginning with a +38 handicap start, the East Londoners appeal as 15/1 each-way pokes.
Wolves – Wolves to win ‘Without the Big 6' (7/2)
Wolves were undoubtedly one of the big stories of 2018/19 as they finished an excellent seventh in their first season back in the big time. Going into this season, the Old Gold do have the additional demands of European football as their reward but I sense that manager Nuno Espirito Santo will have a very clear plan on how to adapt and so Wanderers could go well again.
Wolves won the Premier League ‘Without the Big Six' last season and yet are only third favourites at 7/2 to repeat the feat. Whilst they may well face stronger challenges from Leicester and West Ham (to name two), there's an assumption that Wolves may struggle due to their extra commitments but I believe Nuno's troops can consolidate themselves in seventh once more.
These are my Premier League views at the time of writing (22nd July), 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.