Premier League: Sky Bet verdict
Check out the top tips and opinions from the Sky Bet traders for the new Barclays Premier League season.
Chelsea are ahead of reigning champions Manchester City as favourites to win the Premier League title. Do you think that’s a fair reflection of the two club’s chances this season?
Stuart Dallimore: I think they should have won the League last year, their record against their main rivals was superb but they dropped too many silly points.
They’ve made some huge signings and you’d expect Mourinho to have ironed out those errors they made last season. They’re worthy favourites.
Jess Gill: Yes I think that this is a fair reflection on Chelsea and Manchester City. They are rightly the two front runners for the title since they have the two strongest squads in the Premier League.
Manchester City were a better side last year, but Chelsea have strengthened considerably with some world-class signings right through the heart of the team, whereas City have only strengthened slightly.
I think Chelsea could easily run away with the title this season under Mourinho’s guidance, especially if the new signings start on the right foot.
Joe Petyt: Mourinho has been very bullish about his squad in pre season, he seems to have been given everything he’d have wanted in the transfer market.
They had a great record against the other top teams last term, Farbregas and Costa in particular should help them break stubborn teams down at the other end of the table.
I think there’s a few questions surrounding Man City’s big players going into the season. Can Aguero stay fit? Is Yaya Toure motivated? They’re going to need those two to be on form to retain their title.
Manchester United have impressed in pre-season under Louis van Gaal. Can he get them challenging for the top-four place and possibly even the title again?
Stuart Dallimore: They’re probably quite a way behind City and Chelsea but I would expect to see them improve on last season; they couldn’t be much worse!
They’re still missing a few signings though in my opinion. As you mentioned they’ve performed very well pre-season and people really seem to be buying into the charisma of Van Gaal, they’ve been backed as such in the outright market and now sit third favourites.
Personally I think that their price should be closer to Arsenal’s than it currently is and would probably be a backer of Arsenal at odds against in the season match bet.
The title is probably a stretch too far as City and Chelsea look much better than the rest, but they should be capable of challenging for a top-four spot.
Jess Gill: Louis van Gaal has proven he’s a top manager so there is no question that he will get the best out of the Manchester United team.
"I think Manchester United will be a really safe bet at 1/2 to finish in the top four, I’d be really surprised if they missed out, especially including the fact they don’t have a European competition to contend with."
There’s a lot of quality in the squad, especially the forward line and the new signings in Shaw and Herrera, with more potentially to come.
I think Manchester United will be a really safe bet at 1/2 to finish in the top four, I’d be really surprised if they missed out, especially including the fact they don’t have a European competition to contend with.
I don’t think they’ll have quite enough to go all the way this season but I do think that they will push the front-runners all the way.
Joe Petyt: We’ll be in a much better position to judge at the end of the transfer window, they still seem short in a few key areas as things stand.
We saw last season with Liverpool how beneficial concentrating all your efforts on the League can be and that will give them a big advantage over their rivals assuming they don’t take the Europa League too seriously. I’m expecting a much improved campaign but the title will probably be beyond them.
The battle to qualify for the Champions League is set to be keenly contested. Who will miss out when the music stops?
Stuart Dallimore: Last season the race for the top four was probably the most competitive it has been in recent years. The teams I see finishing up there are City, Chelsea, Arsenal with United/Liverpool battling out for the final spot... not really sticking my neck out picking the first four in the betting.
Liverpool were excellent last season but they’ve sold their star player and have extra matches to contest this year. I think not having European Football made a massive difference to them last season and could have a similar effect on Manchester United this year.
Liverpool are 4/5 to not finish in the top four, which doesn’t look a bad bet in my opinion.
Jess Gill: I think Liverpool are going to miss out on the top four this season, along with Tottenham and Everton.
Liverpool have lost Luis Suarez, which is obviously a massive loss and he hasn’t been properly replaced. I think they’ll struggle to maintain strong league form, whilst competing in the Champions League after a five year absence.
Also, with Chelsea and Manchester City being front runners, Manchester United looking strong and Arsenal being consistent top four finishers, I think Liverpool to finish outside of the top four at 4/5 is a really good price.
I don’t think Tottenham and Everton have enough quality to challenge for a top four spot this season; their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season would be to win the Europa League. I like the look of Tottenham to win the Europa League at 16/1.
Joe Petyt: It will be difficult for Liverpool to repeat their form of last season given the loss of Suarez and the introduction of Champions League football.
They were starting games at a ferocious pace last season, I’m not sure they will be able to maintain that intensity with potentially another 15 or so games to play this season.
The new signings have undoubtedly improved the depth of their squad but without Suarez and Gerrard a year older the starting XI looks weaker.
The Premier League handicap market is always a good one for punters to get their teeth into. Who can surpass their pre-season expectations?
Stuart Dallimore: The recent winners of the Handicap market with Sky Bet have tended to be nearer to the top of the market. Liverpool won it last season, Manchester United the season before.
One team I like the look of that fits a similar profile to Liverpool last season is Tottenham.
They’re getting an 18pt start which might look generous come the end of the season if Pochettino can get the best out of their squad.
I also think Hull look solid enough and have made some decent signings.
They secured Jake Livermore permanently too which I think is a big move for them. Their start of 42pts looks more than fair in my opinion.
Jess Gill: I think that Crystal Palace will have a good season under Tony Pulis, they finished so strongly last season with some really good performances and I think they will push for a top half finish this season, the +42 handicap looks good.
I also think Southampton will be a big surprise this season with many people thinking that they will struggle and potentially get relegated.
They’ve obviously lost a lot of key players but they’ve done some really good signings and have a top manager in Ronald Koeman. It might just be worth the risk to back Southampton on the +34 handicap.
Joe Petyt: Tottenham massively underachieved last season, Pochettino is a big upgrade on Tim Sherwood and it’s a squad that should be challenging for the Champions League places. If they can do that they won’t be far off on the handicap.
With Luis Suarez now moving on to pastures new, who offers the best value in the top goalscorer market?
Stuart Dallimore: This is the most interesting market in the Premier League for me. You can put a question mark next to the top two in the market as you wouldn’t be surprised if either picked up injuries along the way.
"Looking at the other players around the same price he looks like the one who is likely to play the most games. Think he’s worth an each-way bet at 50/1."
Sturridge is third favourite and it’s hard to determine how much of an impact Suarez leaving will have on his production.
Looking at Diego Costa, he’s clearly the best striking option for Chelsea, he should play most of the games for them. Lukaku is a similar story for Everton at a bigger price.
I may be made to look stupid saying this, but I quite like Soldado at 50/1. He should improve on last season as should Spurs as a whole. It wouldn’t be the first time a player has struggled in his first season in the prem and show improvement the next.
Looking at the other players around the same price he looks like the one who is likely to play the most games. Think he’s worth an each-way bet at 50/1.
Jess Gill: I think the two front runners in the market, Aguero and Van Persie, are quite risky bets due to their injury concerns, so I think the best value in the top goalscorer market is probably in Diego Costa at 6/1.
I think he’ll lead the line for nearly all of the Chelsea’s league matches, with a team that consists of a lot of top creative players who will provide him with a lot of service.
Wayne Rooney has impressed in pre-season and looks like he’ll be getting a lot chances playing in a front two, so 12/1 could be a good bet if you fancy Manchester United to score a lot of goals this season.
Joe Petyt: I’m expecting Cesc Fabregas to be a key figure for Chelsea this term. Mourinho likes to have a central goalscoring midfielder in his teams when you look at the likes of Deco, Lampard and Sneijder over the years.
Fabregas has a bit of a point to prove after an indifferent time at Barcelona and he certainly has the talent to hit the ground running and make a big impact. At big prices he certainly offers some each-way value.
Sam Allardyce has already been backed for a quick exit from West Ham this season. Can he be opposed in the next Premier League manager to leave betting?
Stuart Dallimore: There was quite a gamble on him when his and the board’s opinions on Ravel Morrison were conflicting. He’s probably a little artificially short as a result.
I think Aston Villa may struggle and with Roy Keane waiting in the wings it wouldn’t be a surprise if they gave Lambert the boot should they get off to a bad start.
Alan Pardew was always prominent in this market last season and Newcastle have really struggled since Cabaye left.
They’ve quietly been spending a fair amount of money this summer and don’t seem to have learned their lesson with the types of players they’re signing.
Their opening fixtures don’t look the worst on paper but they’re the type of games you could see Newcastle struggling with. Palace, Southampton, Hull and Stoke all look tricky ties.
Pardew and Lambert both look attractive prices given how short Allardyce is.
Jess Gill: Sam Allardyce is on a huge pay packet at West Ham so I think it’s very unlikely that he’d walk out of West Ham so the only way he’ll leave is if he is sacked.
This would be a really brave decision by the owners because Big Sam guarantees you a solid Premier League performance.
If West Ham get off to a quick start I think all the problems behind the scene will be forgotten.
I do think there is some value in backing the lesser proven managers such as Alan Irvine at West Brom or Garry Monk at Swansea who might struggle in their first full Premier League season.
Joe Petyt: At the current prices I don’t think he’s a bet.
"Alan Pardew seems to have a strained relationship with Mike Ashley, they struggled after losing Cabaye last season, if they get off to a slow start he’s going to come under serious pressure."
In terms of results he’s done a good job at West Ham with a promotion and a couple of seasons of stability in the Premier League. Would the chairman risk a potential relegation to appease the fans who’d like to see more attractive football?
Alan Pardew seems to have a strained relationship with Mike Ashley, they struggled after losing Cabaye last season, if they get off to a slow start he’s going to come under serious pressure.
Leicester, Burnley and QPR are the three newly-promoted clubs. How many of the trio can survive in the top-flight and who’s your outside pick for the drop?
Stuart Dallimore: I see QPR as the most likely of the three to remain in the Premier League. I particularly like the signing of Jordan Mutch who was excellent for Cardiff last season despite how poorly they performed.
Burnley don’t look like they have improved their squad enough to fight off relegation and I’d be very surprised if they don’t go straight back down.
Leicester looked very good last season. They haven’t improved their squad to the level of QPR but the few players they have brought in look decent enough. They’ll be battling it out with the other teams though in my opinion.
I personally believe the three teams for the drop will come from Leicester, Burnley, Aston Villa and West Brom.
The relegation trebles throw up some chunky prices, these three look worth a bet to me:
Burnley, Leicester, Villa 28/1
Burnley, Villa, West Brom 33/1
Burnley, Leicester, West Brom 18/1
Jess Gill: I think Burnley will really struggle in the Premier League, I don’t think they have a strong enough team to compete in the top flight and Sean Dyche might struggle with no Premier League experience.
Leicester were really impressive last season in the Sky Bet Championship but they haven’t strengthened their squad with much quality so I think they will behind around the drop one all season.
QPR have bought in some top players in the summer and Harry Redknapp is a proven Premier League manager so I think they should do enough to avoid the drop zone at 2/5.
I think the two Birmingham sides will struggle this season, West Brom had a bad time last season and have an unknown manager. Aston Villa also struggled last season and outside of Benteke they don’t have much quality in the squad.
I fancy the Burnley/Aston Villa/West Brom relegation treble at 33/1.
Joe Petyt: The quality at the bottom of the Premier League isn’t great, all three of those clubs will fancy their chances of staying up if they get the rub of the green with injuries.
Newcastle at 10/1 looks a big price given their form in the second half of last season. Cabaye and Remy were key players for them last season, it’s hard to see where the goals are going to come from.
Sky Bet have a mountain of specials to delve into. Where can we find a hidden gem?
Stuart Dallimore: One market the customers do like is the 'winning at Christmas' market. It gives them a chance to get some ante-post funds back half-way through the season rather than wait all year.
Arsenal look a decent bet at 4/1 for this market in my opinion. They tend to start very well and have to play some of their bigger games, against City, Tottenham and Man United in the first half of the season.
Jess Gill: I think Chelsea to remain unbeaten at home in the league at 4/1 is a really good bet in our Chelsea Specials.
Mourinho has a brilliant home record as a manager and this Chelsea side is very strong, I’d be really surprised if they drop many points at home.
Joe Petyt: The Relegation Trebles are proving very popular with some big prices on offer.
What’s the best bet for the opening weekend of the season?
Stuart Dallimore: Stoke host Villa the opening day of the season. They look a little over-priced at odds against. They’ve looked pretty solid pre-season and have brought some excitement to the fans in the signing of Bojan.
Jess Gill: I think Manchester City are a really big price away at Newcastle for the first match of the season at 8/15, I think the Community Shield is nothing to go by and they’ll have a strong team ready for this match.
I think the Newcastle players are still gelling with the new arrivals and might struggle under a lot of pressure.
Joe Petyt: Tottenham to beat West Ham.
Finally, give us your selection for the most attractive ante-post wager?
Stuart Dallimore: The reverse forecast of Man City/Chelsea is available of 15/8. I think this looks one of the better bets of the season.
You’re definitely going to get a run for your money with it and I struggle to see where it could get beat. I also think Villa to be relegated looks a good bet.
Jess Gill: Stoke at 6/5 to be the Top Midlands Club. I would be really surprised if they don’t finish above West Brom, Aston Villa and Leicester. I think these three sides will all be around the relegation zone, whereas Stoke should be in the top half.
Joe Petyt: Fabregas Top Goalscorer each-way at 66/1.