Liam Kelly looks at the specials markets offered in the run up to the 2022/23 Premier League season, highlighting several prices of interest.
8pts Manchester City to be top on Christmas Day at 4/5 (BetVictor, Betway)
2pts Manchester City/Tottenham Straight Forecast at 9/1 (bet365)
1.5pts e.w. Jack Grealish to record the most assists at 12/1 (Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3)
1pt e.w. Ollie Watkins to have the most shots on target at 40/1 (Betway 1/4 1,2,3,4)
Manchester City's transfer window does nothing but support my thoughts that last season's Premier League champions are set to dominate the 2022/23 campaign, and it's worth backing them to get off to a smooth start in an effort to retain the crown.
Not only do City face a fairly easy opening six games, coming up against opponents with an average forecast finishing position of 12.7, but they look set to benefit more than others from the debacle that is a winter World Cup.
City are set to contest a total of 16 league games before the break, nine of which will be played at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola's host 'big six' rivals Tottenham and Manchester United during that time, while visits to Liverpool and Arsenal in quick succession might prove their stiffest test.
Crucially, at least for the upcoming bet selection, a tough trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea is one of the three games that comes after the Boxing Day restart of domestic action.
It is MANCHESTER CITY TO BE TOP ON CHRISTMAS DAY that makes appeal then, available at 4/5 in places.
With this bet ultimately settled in mid-November, City have an excellent opportunity to take pole position entering the second part of an interrupted season.
Speaking of slick starts, Jack Grealish has been criticised for his output in a Manchester City shirt thus far. That does seem a little harsh, however, considering he was used sparingly in what can be labelled as a year of adaptation.
Still, three goals and three assists would have been under Grealish's own threshold of a successful individual league season, despite the caveat of only 2,047 minutes played.
Grealish logged just 2,348 minutes starting just 24 games in the final season for his beloved Aston Villa, recording 10 actual assists from 8.40 expected assists (xA) on 2020/21.
A total of 4.96 xA last term, greater than the three assists registered, gives credence to the idea that Grealish will be a creative force in his sophomore season under Pep.
Indeed, JACK GREALISH to record the MOST ASSISTS is of each-way (1/4 1,2,3) interest at 12/1 with Sky Bet.
The addition of Erling Haaland and the departure of Raheem Sterling has set the stage for Grealish to flourish, even if his teammate Kevin De Bruyne looks the one to beat.
Dejan Kulusevski looked a good bet at 25/1 before Antonio Conte's spending spree, bringing in another viable starting option up top in Richarlison.
Valuable playing time might be taken away from Kulusevski, who recorded eight assists after joining Tottenham in January — five behind the winner in this market last term. A total of 3.40 xA suggests that some regression can be expected, though.
Staying with Spurs, they take the eye in the lead up to the new campaign, edging above Chelsea in the title odds, but there is perhaps a validity in supporting them to move ahead of Liverpool in 2022/23.
The aforementioned backing of Conte is something that should worry the competition, a manager more than capable of preparing a team for a spectacular season.
Signs were positive from the very beginning of Conte's tenure, before ultimately ending the season in a Champions League qualification spot. Tottenham's underlying numbers portray the vast improvement in process perfectly, too.
Spurs averaged a -0.55 expected goal difference (xGD) per game across the 10 games with Nuno Espírito Santo in charge. Under Conte, they averaged a +0.91 xGD per game.
A continuation of such performance would put them a lot closer to the top two over the course of a full term, without factoring in the obvious improvements that have been made in the transfer window.
Manchester City could well run away with things at the top, so taking the 9/1 at bet365 about a MANCHESTER CITY/TOTTENHAM STRAIGHT FORECAST looks value.
It makes far more sense than backing the 11/2 on offer for Tottenham to win the league without City or the 11/4 available for Spurs to finish in the top two.
Finally, I tried my very best to stay away from a market that has so many variables involved, but the 40/1 price at Betway for OLLIE WATKINS to record the MOST SHOTS ON TARGET is too big to pass up.
Small stakes are advised on an each-way bet that should be a fun follow with four places on offer.
The big names have dominated this metric in the past, especially Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane, but Watkins has ranked sixth in 2020/21 (45) and ninth in 2021/22 (32) for shots on target, his only appearances in the Premier League.
Making the keeper work is clearly a strength for Watkins, his shots on target totals came from 97 and 77 shots respectively.
After a period of uncertainty as to how Steven Gerrard wants to employ the England international, Watkins appeared to be the main man for Villa at the end of last season.
For the purpose of this bet, some improvement of Villa's attacking process may be needed, but that's not out of the question with some solid additions in the summer and a full preparation for the campaign under Gerrard.
Odds correct at 1200 (16/07/22)
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