Sport

Still Mancini not Matteo for the Title

As we head into the international break, it’s a good time to assess the myriad of betting options the Premier League offers now that the league has settled down somewhat.

As far as outright winner goes, little has changed from the start of the season as far as the bookmakers are concerned, with Manchester City still favourites for the title. They have drifted a little as a result of their somewhat indifferent form in the early part of the season, now readily available at 13/8 with SkyBet, Bet365 and Bet Victor from 7/5 in pre-season. Man United still occupy the second favourites tag, available at 9/4 with blue Square and William Hill from a pre-season price of 13/5, although with Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal as their next three fixtures, now probably isn’t a good time to part with your money. The big movers are table-topping Chelsea, available at 3/1 with Stan James and Ladbrokes from 5/1 as concerns about the infamous “settling-in period” have proved unfounded.

The race for this season’s Champions League spots is relatively straightforward according to the bookmakers. City, United and Chelsea are all dead certs to be among Europe’s elite next season, leaving a two-horse race for the fourth spot between Arsenal who are priced at 8/15 with Coral and Tottenham at 12/5 with Ladbrokes. Punters may be tempted by longer shots like Everton at 7/1 Bet Victor and Stan James, who currently occupy fourth position, although their ability to maintain results for a whole season has to be questioned. West Brom are available at 125/1 with Bet Victor if you feel their strong start can be continued, and Liverpool are 10/1 shots with the same firm if you feel like throwing your money down the drain.

Bookmakers seem to believe that the relegation battle will be the most intriguing scrap of the season, emphasised by the fact that bottom-placed QPR are fifth favourites to go down, priced at 5/2 with Stan James. Norwich, at 4/6 with SkyBet, are favourites across the board, joined at odds-on prices by Reading and Southampton who are priced at 4/5 and 10/11 with Blue Square respectively. Perennial relegation-dodgers Wigan can be found at 15/8 with Coral, although the promising partnership of Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo may put some off backing them at this price. Paul Lambert appears to be starting to pull his squad together and Villa at 7/2 with Ladbrokes should be safe on the evidence we’ve seen so far. Despite their strong start I have a feeling Swansea may begin to suffer from SSS (Second Season Syndrome) and you could do worse than back them at an appealing 7/2 with SkyBet.

Jonnie Barnett

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