The Premier League finally returns on Wednesday, June 17.
There’s not a lot of intrigue when it comes to the title race as Liverpool locked it up around November.
However, thanks to Manchester City violating financial fair play regulations and getting hammered with a two-year UEFA ban, there’s an extra spot open for both Champions League and Europa League qualification.
The Premier League has been dominated by “the Big 6” (Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and City) most of the past decade. There are potential crashers to the Big 6 party this year though. Leicester City have all but assured themselves a spot in the Champions League. Wolves and recently promoted Sheffield United have outside shots at UCL qualification and strong potential for Europa League play in 2020-21.
If you’re looking at betting on the Premier League, here are some wagers to explore at the restart.
Top 4 finish
Premier League teams finishing in the top four earn an automatic birth into the Champions League. It’s important to note on these wagers that they state “Top 4 Finish” not “Champions League Qualification.” Man City likely won’t be allowed to play in the Champions League next season (or the following), but they’re a Top 4 lock. League leaders Liverpool are also already mathematically locked in the Top 4.
That leaves two Top 4 spots for seven viable teams.
- Leicester City -715
- Chelsea -167
- Man U +175
- Wolves +800
- Sheffield United +1400
- Tottenham +1400
- Arsenal +1600
With eight points separating them from fifth place Manchester United, it would take an epic collapse for Leicester not to finish in the Top 4. That really just leaves one spot open then for six teams.
Chelsea is vulnerable. They currently sit in fourth but are just three points clear of Man U and have a lesser goal differential. Still, analytics suggest there is typically little movement in the Top 4 at the 30 match mark until the end of the season. They should hang on.
If you’re looking for a darkhorse team, Wolves at +800 has some legs. Wolves face three relegation candidates at the restart and could stockpile nine points in those games. Chelsea has Man City and Leicester in two of their first three games back. That final Top 4 spot could be decided on the final matchday of the season, when Chelsea hosts Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
Top 6 finish
Again, Liverpool and City are already in and off the board. Leicester is almost locked in and is priced at +10000. Chelsea at +2000 should be considered a lock as well.
That leaves two spots for five viable contenders:
- Manchester United -560
- Wolves +120
- Tottenham +200
- Arsenal +225
- Sheffield +250
With a healthy Paul Pogba integrated with star transfer Bruno Fernandes, Man U is in great shape for a Top 6 finish. Given how closely priced the remaining teams are, there’s not a true value play. However, Sheffield United at +250 warrants consideration. The Blades have been steady all year and have conceded fewer goals than any team other than Liverpool.
Teams to be relegated
The battle at the bottom of this campaign is more interesting than the title chase. Three teams get dropped every season. So far, only Norwich City (-1430) is almost certainly dropping down to England’s second tier.
There are five teams who could “earn” the other two relegation spots:
- Aston Villa -250
- Bournemouth -118
- West Ham +175
- Watford +225
- Brighton +300
Only four points separate 19th place Aston Villa (25 pts) with 15th place Brighton (29 pts). These teams are closely grouped. Any modest run of form could move any of them above the relegation line.
So who are the best bets to be relegated?
From a talent perspective, healthy Bournemouth and West Ham squads should have enough juice on the field to sneak above the drop zone. Villa had the poorest run of form leading into the COVID-19 induced break, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll turn it around. Who joins them on the drop? Brighton at +300 is worth a real look. They’re the only team in all four English professional divisions who have not won a domestic league match in 2020.