Silva lining in assists market
Our Ben Coley takes an in-depth look at the specials markets ahead of the new Premier League season.
- Related Content
2pts e.w. David Silva to provide the most assists at 10/1 (Boylesports 1/4 1,2,3,4).
1pt Southampton to be bottom at Christmas at 5/1 (Paddy Power).
8pts Manchester City to be top at Christmas at 13/8 (William Hill).
5pts Reading to finish above Southampton at 11/10 (BetVictor).
2pts Everton to finish above Newcastle at 5/4 (BetVictor).
Unearthing Premier League specials value is no easy task, but I found one market in particular that I really liked the look of in writing this piece.
That market was most Premier League assists, and one of the reasons I liked it was that only one firm had priced up.
What that meant was that we were betting against the opinion of the football traders at Boylesports, and for my money they'd seriously underestimated Wayne Rooney in offering 40/1.
That, of course, was before a deal to sign Robin van Persie was agreed between Manchester United and Arsenal.
Boylesports promptly cut Rooney to 16/1, while Paddy Power have since added a market and quote 20s, which in my opinion is the correct price.
The case for Rooney was based around the fact that he has placed several times in this market, and should van Persie sign he'd have every chance of doing so - at least - once more.
But everything has its price and at 20/1, disappointed though I am, I cannot side with Rooney.
There's some temptation to side with van Persie, who has topped the assists charts before, but again 25/1 would look to be the right price.
I had every intention of tipping David Silva alongside Rooney and at 10/1 he now stands out as the best value in the market.
Manchester City's best player adapted to life in the Premier League instantly last season, and his tally of 15 assists was comfortably the division's highest.
That carried on from the form he showed at Valencia and he will start this season as a European Champion once more, having created three goals for his country at Euro 2012.
Although below the level of the competition's most prolific providers, Silva plays for a Spain side who get goals from all areas and he was their most creative influence from a statistical perspective.
With Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko to feed, Silva won't be far away from the top come next May and at 10/1 is a solid wager.
Further encouragement for our pick is taken from the lack of opposition elsewhere.
Eden Hazard's record in Ligue 1 is exemplary but he'll need Fernando Torres to fire if he's to figure highly in his first season at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal's best provider last season was Alex Song which says much about the rest of Arsene Wenger's much-rotated midfield.
Liverpool lack a really creative influence as far as I can tell, with Luis Suarez perhaps their man-most-likely, but he'll need Fabio Borini to adapt very quickly to life in the Premier League to compete in this market.
All things considered, Silva does look a worthy favourite and Paddy Power's 6/1 is more accurate than the 10/1 offered by Boylesports, which we'll take.
Another market I like the shape of is Paddy Power's 'who will be bottom at Christmas?' list.
Reading are favourites but I fancy them to surprise a few people here and they've a relatively gentle start, which could allow them to establish some momentum.
We've seen before with the likes of Blackpool and Hull that if the lesser-lights can get points in the bag early, they can ride that wave of momentum well into the New Year.
Norwich are also prominent in the betting but they too have a decent set of fixtures, and at the prices it's Southampton who look worth backing.
Saints impressed in finishing second in the Championship last season, gaining back-to-back promotions in the process, but I just wonder whether survival might prove too much, too soon.
The addition of Nathaniel Clyne is a solid bit of business but otherwise they've been very quiet, and the squad they have is among the weakest in the division on paper.
With that and their fixture list in mind, they could find things tough from a very early stage. Southampton's first game is away at Manchester City, while in September they travel to Arsenal and Everton after they've hosted Manchester United.
They're also away at Liverpool during the first half of the season and for my money are worthy 11/8 shots to go down, so given that their main rivals have much easier starts to the season I rate 5/1 a couple of points too big.
Similarly, I really like the look of Manchester City to be top of the table on Christmas Day at 13/8.
Quite simply, they were top last Christmas, and would've been a year earlier had they not lost at home against Everton just days before tucking into their turkey.
The last two years suggest that the Manchester clubs are a good way ahead of their nearest rivals, and with changes afoot at Tottenham and Chelsea it's possible that their competitors will both stumble out of the blocks.
Arsenal are the only others to consider in my eyes but they have to go away to Liverpool and Stoke at the start of the season, while their trip to Old Trafford is also this side of Christmas.
Essentially what I'm saying is one of either City or United will be top at Christmas, and for my money City should therefore be a shade of odds-on.
Perhaps crucially, they host United in December and the only game that you'd really worry about is their trip to Chelsea, so at 13/8 they're a cracking bet.
Finally, there are a host of match bets priced up and two stand out, starting with Reading to finish higher than Southampton.
As detailed, I reckon Saints will struggle, but Reading could surprise plenty this season.
I really like the deals they've done, particularly the addition of Pavel Pogrebnyak who of course was so impressive during a loan spell with Fulham last season.
Gareth McCleary was superb for Nottingham Forest at times and certainly has the potential to make a go of it at this level, while Danny Guthrie is a solid, experienced addition to the midfield.
Chris Gunter has improved as part of the Wales international set-up and along with Adrian Mariappa helps add to the defence, and with Brian McDermott at the helm I fancy Reading to survive.
Don't forget that they finished ahead of Southampton despite an awful start last season, and the confidence gained from winning the Championship title is certainly worth something.
Remember too that when Reading last gained promotion by winning the Championship, they finished in eighth position and just three points behind Everton and five behind Spurs.
Perhaps such an achievement will prove beyond them this time around, but having made the better signings they should be favourites to once again finish ahead of Southampton.
BetVictor don't agree and offer 11/10 about Reading, which strikes me as very generous.
The same firm are also sticking their necks out in quoting 5/4 about Everton finishing ahead of Newcastle.
The latter were of course one of the success stories of last season, finishing nine points ahead of Everton in fifth, but it's hard to see them repeating that this time around.
Yes, the infrastructure is there for Newcastle to remain among the top six but they may need to add further to their squad, especially if rumours surrounding Demba Ba's future persist.
Papiss Cisse has already proven that he's a classy operator at this level but he'll need support, and with Leon Best also having exited it's difficult to see where that comes from should Ba seek pastures new.
Everton have finished in the top half of the table for six years running, and finally look to have a goalscorer they can rely on in Nikica Jelavic.
Steven Naismith looks to be up to the task too, and with Steven Pienaar back to play provider I can see the Toffees beating 60 goals for the first time since 1996.
If they do that, another top seven or eight finish almost certainly awaits and they look value to out-point Newcastle at 5/4.