Andy Schooler has been scouring the myriad specials markets ahead of the new Premier League season, with Mason Greenwood a strong fancy for PFA Young Player of the Year.
- Sheffield United lowest-scoring team
The Blades enjoyed a fantastic return to the top flight last season. But despite finishing in the top-half they managed to score just 39 goals in their 38 games. Only four sides had lower tallies with relegated Bournemouth scoring more. Their defence didn’t look anywhere near as strong post-lockdown and they now look worse in goal with Dean Henderson having been replaced by Aaron Ramsdale. Regardless of your view on ‘second-season syndrome’ they look unlikely to repeat their 2019/20 effort.
And if things do slip back, then that already-poor goal tally could sink to levels low enough to win this market. The last seven market winners have scored fewer than 30 goals so they will have to fade away quite a bit but there are no fearsome goalscorers in their squad and the price of 12/1 simply looks too big.
Find it: BoyleSports - Football Ante-Post/Premier League 20-21/Lowest-scoring Team
- Jack Grealish to score 10+ goals
Grealish dragged Villa to safety with both his goals and general play. He ended with eight league goals in 2019/20 with his ability to get forward, usually from the left-hand side, eventually earning him an England call. Seven of his goals came before January was out so there’s certainly scope for improvement, even if he is playing in a side which may struggle again. Then again, there’s still the chance he moves onto a club where he could be presented with more, better chances. All things considered, he looks overpriced at 4/1 to reach double figures.
Find it: Betfred - Competitions/Premier League/Pick Your Punt – Ante Post/Aston Villa
- Tomas Soucek to score 10+ goals
The Czech midfielder was a real eyecatcher in the second half of last season and looked one of the best January signings. His loan deal at the London Stadium has been made permanent and Hammers fans will be relishing the prospect of him beefing up their midfield this season.
While some have labelled him a defensive midfielder, he actually looks more of a box-to-box man and he showed his eye for goal with three in his 13 games in England last term. A big aerial threat from set pieces and not afraid to shoot (he had 18 shots in his nine post-lockdown games), Soucek should supply his team with goals. Prior to arriving at West Ham, he had scored 12 in 26 games for Slavia Prague, including two in the Champions League, and while clearly scoring at this level is more difficult, that statistic does show how he loves to get forward.
Find it: Paddy Power - Tournaments/English Premier League/Outrights/#WhatOddsPaddy EPL 2020-21 – Player Goals
- John Lundstram top Sheffield United scorer
Many of the team top scorer markets have a heavy odds-on favourite – think Harry Kane at Spurs – but the Sheffield United equivalent is highly competitive. It took just six goals to win this last season and Lundstram bagged five, so it’s hard to know why he’s 16/1. To be fair, part of the reason is he’s not a nailed-on starter for the Blades – he was in and out of the team towards the end of the campaign.
However, given United’s struggles in that period, it would be no surprise to see Chris Wilder restore him to the starting XI for their opener against Wolves. Indeed, Lundstram was back in the team for the recent friendly with Preston – and he scored in a 2-2 draw. Strikers Ollie McBurnie, Lys Mousset and David McGoldrick never looked like regular Premier League scorers last season, so it’s worth taking a chance of Lundstram at the price.
Find it: William Hill - Competitions/English Premier League/Outrights/Top Team Goalscorer
- Mason Greenwood PFA Young Player of the Year
If Soucek caught the eye in the second half of last season, then what about Greenwood? To score 17 goals in the season during which you turn 18 is nothing short of sensational and he looks set for a big year in an improving United team. With Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in midfield, United created many more chances – and scored lots more goals – after Christmas, with Greenwood weighing in heavily.
His pace and ability to get shots away from all areas will make him a nightmare for defenders in the coming campaign. British players usually win this award (40 times out of 46 to be exact) and Greenwood is arguably already in pole position. It’s worth noting that the rules regarding nominations for this award changed in 2019/20 with only players 21 and under on July 1 eligible – previously it had been 23 and under.
Assuming the rule remains, Marcus Rashford – second favourite with some – will be ineligible. The layers don’t seem to have cottoned on. For me Greenwood should arguably be favourite. That position is currently held by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is set to win the 2019/20 award. Back-to-back winners are rare (Giggs, Fowler, Rooney, Alli the only four) and the feat has never been achieved by a defender - indeed TAA would be only the second in the PL era to win the gong.
Find it: Paddy Power - Tournaments/English Premier League/Outrights/PFA Young Player of the Year 2020-21
- Wolves 60+ points
Wolves racked up 59 points last season, one which saw them play no fewer than 17 Europa League games. Without that distraction, they should be able to improve domestically – and any improvement lands this bet. When dealing with the Thursday-Sunday issue created by Europe’s second-tier competition, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men won just two of their weekend Premier League games. Six of their league-high 14 draws came in those matches and they averaged just 1.2 points in them.
Across the rest of the campaign, they averaged 1.68 per game. So far, they’ve hung onto their key players and even if they lose some, the money is clearly there to sign quality replacements with the exciting teenager Fabio Silva already bagged for a club-record fee. Importantly, Wolves possess the ability to beat the teams at the top-end of the table (Man City were defeated twice in 2019/20). An alternative I almost went for was 5/2 about Wolves finishing in the top six but the points line looks the better option.
Find it: Betfred - Competitions/Premier League/Pick Your Punt – Ante Post/Wolves
- Burnley over 40.5 points
Burnley are a team almost constantly underrated by the bookmakers, who continue to expect them to fail. They regularly succeed. Last season they finished in the top half with 54 points – the second season in three they have finished on that mark. In the one inbetween, the Clarets saw their start ruined by Europa League involvement and they struggled until Christmas after which they returned to their ‘normal’ level, winning 28 points from their final 19 games.
If you are prepared to rule out that first half of 2018/19 because of their European escapade, Burnley have won 136 points in 95 games over the past three seasons, an average of 1.43 per match. Pull that across a full campaign and you return to that 54-points figure. Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are a partnership who score goals and even when the duo have been injured, Burnley have found ways to win matches – Jay Rodriguez contributed plenty last term. At the back, they remain very solid – remember keeper Nick Pope was still in the hunt for the Golden Glove on the final day of the season.
Expect them to remain hard to beat under the astute Sean Dyche. Given all this, an over/under points line of 40.5 looks too low. For something bigger, you could try 5/1 about Burnley finishing in the top half for the third time in four seasons – they landed this bet at 8/1 last time out.
Find it: Unibet - Outrights/England/Premier League/Burnley Markets 2020-21
- Crystal Palace over 40 points
Palace are another team whose points line looks too low. Their last three seasons have seen them finish with totals of 43-49-44. Their price is undoubtedly based on their poor finish to last season but Roy Hodgson has acted to freshen up his squad by signing exciting youngsters Nathan Ferguson and Eberechi Eze.
They could be seen as a gamble but should add some energy to a team which has often struggled for goals. At the back, they have usually been tight and Hodgson can be expected to continue with an approach which focuses on keeping opponents out. 13/8 just seems big about a team who have regularly steered clear of the drop zone. An alternative I considered was backing them at 6/5 in a match bet against Brighton, but the points line keeps things solely down to what the Eagles do so that’s the preference.
Find it: Bet365 - Outrights/England Premier League 2020-21/Points Total
Posted at 0700 BST on 07/09/20
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