Adrian Clarke will be here weekly with an Insights preview piece of the weekend’s Premier League action.
He will also feature alongside Mark O’Haire and special guest Miguel Delaney next Wednesday 11:00 for the opening episode of the Matchbook Betting Football Podcast. Subscribe here so you don’t miss it!
On we go with Adrian’s Bumper Premier League Preview…
We've also got @MiguelDelaney in as a special guest for our opening preview of the season ?
?️ Tuesday 3rd August (11am)
Bring on a season that will be like no other ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/i37aYmNTAm
— Aidan O’Sullivan (@Sully_Matchbook) July 25, 2022
Premier League Title Tips
To win this season’s Premier League crown it’s likely to require 90-plus points.
Across the last six campaigns, the lowest title-winning tally has been 86, and the average haul achieved by those champions has been an eye-watering 94.8.
So, if anyone out there tries to convince you a team outside of Manchester City or Liverpool will walk away with the top prize in 22-23, be very wary indeed!
I hate myself for being so tedious here but are Chelsea (18.5) or Tottenham Hotspur (15.5) genuinely capable of finding an extra 21 or 24 points, respectively to hit that six-year mean target by the end of May?
It’s impossible to answer that question with a yes.
We can all dare to dream of another Leicester City-style triumph – with none of the big six accruing more than 71 points that year – but that feels too fanciful.
Pep Guardiola’s side, significantly boosted by the arrival of wonderkid striker Erling Haaland, does look the obvious pick, but a price of 1.68 is fairly unattractive to me with 38 matches left to play.
It’s on the short side, but even though will miss regular contributions from Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, City remain worthy favourites.
Liverpool at 4.1 will surely attract plenty of ante-post interest. Right now, they are the only backable title selection in my opinion.
They were just a point off the last term, and have replaced Sadio Mane with Darwin Nunez, a young striker with enough potential to match the Bayern Munich star’s goal output.
Mo Salah’s contract renewal means there is no real noise to speak of at Anfield. They appear to be a happy, settled group that’s ready to go again; I just don’t see them being too far away.
Finishing last season with an astonishing 50 points from their last 18 matches (all unbeaten) it’s strange they are considered relative long shots compared to City.
I make them second favourites but only by a slim margin, so if you can claim that 4.1 while it’s still there, I suspect you’ll get plenty of value for money.
Premier League Top 4 Tips
The race for a Top 4 finish is a far more appealing marketplace, and there are legitimate grounds to fancy Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United ahead of the big kick off.
Of course, only two will make it, and Antonio Conte’s Tottenham are considered the strongest contenders.
This I guess is based on their ambitious recruitment this summer, which does indeed strengthen their hand.
Richarlison dampens the nerves Spurs fans have got accustomed to feeling over injuries to Kane or Son, while Perisic, Bissouma, Spence and Lenglet all look shrewd signings on paper.
At 1.64, I would not have any interest in backing them, though, as the quality of what’s around them means they can’t be labelled ‘certs’ for Top 4.
The same must be said for Chelsea, who have not had the best pre-season preparations.
Romelu Lukaku’s departure can be looked at two ways, but you’d imagine Raheem Sterling would be hard pushed to not outscore the Belgian’s contributions from last term.
The Blues do still look a striker short, their midfield is a bit samey, and in defence, their rebuild may take time to gel.
Thomas Tuchel’s tactical acumen is worthy of respect, but 1.8 on a Top 4 finish feels on the skinny side when there are still so many unknowns over who is staying or leaving.
The value is possibly in Arsenal at 2.7.
The Gunners should have made top four last season, blowing it big-time at the death, and the curve under Mikel Arteta looks like it’s still heading in an upward trajectory.
Gabriel Jesus is possibly the missing link up top.
The Brazilian has been a revelation in the friendlies and should supply the finishing touch they lacked en route to a 5th placed finish.
In addition, Oleksander Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira’s arrivals and William Saliba’s return from loan exile give the squad a more rounded balance. If one more midfielder and an extra forward come in, the Gunners will have had a first-class window.
Putting my own allegiances to the club to one side I would genuinely have Arsenal alongside Spurs and Chelsea on price points, so the 2.7 is alluring.
If Arteta does not make it into the top four this time, he will see it as a failure.
Manchester United are the only other club worth taking a punt on in this specific market.
The potential loss of Cristiano Ronaldo is a reason to hold off on them at 3.2 for now. His goal return was significant and will be hard to replace. If Ronaldo stays, how will his mindset be too?
I would not write off United’s prospects of Top 4 under Erik ten Hag, who seems to have knocked them into shape this summer, but there are too many red flags to back them with confidence right now.
Premier League Top 6 Tips
There are two standout choices to gate crash the Top 6 in my opinion and they are Newcastle United (3.7) and Leicester City (6.2).
Eddie Howe’s steady revolution at St James’ Park has been seriously impressive, and with plenty of financial muscle to flex in the coming weeks, I expect the Magpies to be a strong proposition.
In the last 12 games they amassed 21 points, which made them the sixth best side during the run-in.
Nick Pope will add quality between the sticks, and with Sven Botman in front of him, they have a solid feel. Backed by a suddenly delirious home support at St James’ Park I can envisage them being very strong, especially on home turf.
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester have been super-quiet this summer, failing to sign anyone new at the time of writing.
There are concerns they may lose Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Fofana or Youri Tielemans, but we know the Foxes’ ownership are both minted and ambitious. Any sales will be replaced by first-class replacements, I am sure.
Leicester endured a poor campaign in 21-22 but still ended up eighth, so it is not a huge stretch in my view to see them knocking on the door for Top 6 this time around.
Providing they have worked hard on leaking fewer goals from set pieces, I see their settled side as a contender. On their day, Rodgers and his tribe are a match for anyone in the division.
West Ham United (5.1), Aston Villa (6.0) and Brighton (9.0) are the other ‘possibles’ according to the spread, but I have reservations they have what it takes to usurp one of the big boys, should they slip up.
Premier League Relegation Tips
Who’s going down?
Of those at backable prices, Southampton at 4.1 have an appeal. The Saints are treading water and finished the previous campaign in truly awful form. Should they start poorly, Ralph Hasenhuttl could be on his way.
Goals are likely to be a thorny issue. Armando Broja is no longer at the club, and none of the summer arrivals leap off the page as game-changers either.
Leeds United at 3.3 are worth a look as well.
They’ve lost their two best players, Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips, and despite their late survival heroics, the jury is still out on head coach Jesse Marsch.
Of the newly promoted clubs, it is Fulham at 2.44 who are most fancied to avoid the drop, but I have reservations over their ability to defend at the highest level.
Marco Silva’s men scored a bundle in the Championship, masking a poor back line that is sure to be exposed in the coming weeks.
Fulham would be in my bottom three, along with Bournemouth who are heavily odds-on at (1.58) to head back to the Championship.
Ambitious Nottingham Forest, who now have Dean Henderson and Jesse Lingard on board, are 2.4 for the drop but I sense they may have enough to survive.
Steve Cooper’s style of football is well equipped to the step up in level, and they will be a threat on the counter.
Their FA Cup performances last season will give them the confidence they can compete.
Personally, I’d rather take a 5.1 punt on Everton, who were abysmal for much of last season.
James Tarkowski should help them at the back but the loss of Richarlison could be a fatal blow. The Brazilian was the man who regularly got them out of jail.
The Toffees weren’t in the relegation shake-up by chance in 2021-22; they were seriously poor.
Am I confident Frank Lampard will transform them into top half material? Not at all.
Premier League Golden Boot Tips
I love the Golden Boot market ahead of every new season and it has been well and truly jazzed up this time around!
Liverpool new boy Darwin Nunez netted 26 league goals for Benfica at a rate of one every 76.46 minutes in 21-22. He also scored six UEFA Champions League goals, once every 102 minutes.
While it’s unlikely he will outscore teammate Mo Salah in his debut season at Anfield, a price of (14.0) will rightly attract attention.
In news that will shock absolutely no one, Erling Haaland is the current favourite on the Matchbook Betting Exchange, available at 3.9 to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer.
Given the amount of chances Manchester City create and the exceptionally high goal output they always boast under Pep Guardiola, I do find it hard to oppose the 22-year-old Norwegian.
He’s a brilliant finisher who scores all types of goals, so providing he avoids injuries I predict Haaland bagging a hatful, and then some.
His numbers are off the charts. In Bundesliga action Haaland scored 62 goals from 59 starts for Borussia Dortmund, and his Champions League record stands at 23 in 16!
Either 22 or 23 goals has been enough to land the Golden Boot in each of the last four Premier League seasons and for a striker of his talent and pedigree that looks an extremely achievable target.
Mo Salah (5.9) and Harry Kane (6.8) are always live candidates, and I see no reason why both can’t push Haaland all the way. They would be my next selections in line behind City’s young pretender.
Considering Son Heung-Min shared the prize with Salah in May off the back of a 23-goal season I am surprised to see the South Korean priced up at 16.5, and also Gabriel Jesus (15.5) who should contribute plenty of strikes in the months ahead.
Neither are expected to outscore the rest, though.
Before a ball has been kicked it feels like this will be Manchester City and Haaland’s season, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have proved they have what it takes to stop them.
Let the battles commence!
- Liverpool Premier League title (4.1)
- Arsenal Top 4 finish (2.7)
- Newcastle United Top 6 finish (3.7)
- Southampton to be relegated (5.1)
- Erling Haaland Top Goalscorer (3.9)