The wait is over and the EPL is back! The silly season that is the transfer market will continue over the coming weeks but several key changes have already been made as the managers prepare their squads for the most demanding league in European football. Both Manchester sides have splashed the cash while the big London clubs have been patient to say the least. Title holders Chelsea virtually made back what they spent with the sales of Matic, Ake and Cuadrado, Tottenham haven’t spent a single penny while the ‘Wenger Out’ calls have come to an end with the addition of Lacazette. Meanwhile Klopp will have his hands full fending off Barcelona as they try to lure Couthinho as will the remaining 14 EPL clubs as the gap between them and the top 6 widens. The Wolf gives us his thoughts and a stack of futures bets.
EPL Futures Best Bets
|EPL Winner||Best Bet: Tottenham ($10.00)
Other: Arsenal ($12.00)
|Top 4||Tottenham ($1.70)|
|Top Half Finish||Stoke ($3.25)|
|Top Goalscorer||Best: Harry Kane ($4.25)
Other: Sergio Aguero ($8.00)
Value: Kelechi Iheanacho ($51)
|Top North West Club||Man City ($1.72)|
Leicester’s title winning run two seasons ago will go down in sporting history and it could be centuries until it ever happens again. There is no point mentioning any team outside the top 6 in the market and despite Man City being installed as firm favourites The Wolf is more than happy to steer clear of them at the price.
Man City ($2.80)
Guardiola’s first season in the Premier League was one to forget. His side had all sorts of defensive issues throughout the first half of the season and a run of 10 wins, 6 draws and only 1 loss in their final 17 games saw them pip Liverpool at the post for the final automatic UCL spot. Pep has splashed the cash to sort his defensive woes out as a result. He spent over £200 million – most of it on defence. Kyle Walker and Mendy will now occupy the wing back positions while Edeson will replace the very shaky Caballero as Bravo’s back up between the sticks. Scoring goals should be no problem with Bernardo Silva joining an attack that includes David Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Jesus and Aguero. That being said The Wolf has concerns over how their defence will gel. Stones and Ottamendi have looked very vulnerable and they almost have too many players to fit in with Mangala and Kompany also in the frame. As we have seen in the past it is the signs with continuity defensively that succeed – Tottenham and Chelsea the clear cases in point from last season. At the price The Wolf wants nothing to do with City.
The Blues went on an unprecedented run to win the league last season and it came on the back of no European football. We saw Liverpool make a run at it in similar circumstances several years back and The Blues took full advantage under Conte. They had no major injuries to key personnel and rolled out the same starting XI for months on end with a full weeks rest between games. They will not be as lucky this time around and the return to the UCL will really test them. Conte has been very conservative in the transfer market and the addition of Morata means little with Diego Costa set to leave and they have a very thin squad with the amount of football they will be playing. Conte is fully aware that they are at least 2-3 world class players short but has let it be known that they will not take part in the silly spending – funny when club owner Abramovich has been far from shy to do so in the past. With Hazard’s name also being thrown up as a possible Neymar replacement at Barca you don’t want to be backing Chelsea to win the league.
Man Utd ($4.50)
This is a classic case of name and fame determining a team’s price in the market. As we have become accustomed to, Jose Mourinho has broken the bank balance yet again. Wondering what £140 million gets you these days… Lukaku, Matic and Lindelof – that’s it! Lukaku may be the man they need up front and he is a proven goal scorer in the EPL but by no means does it justify the £72 million price tag. The Wolf believes that Matic will in fact be the more important signing of the two. The Serbian will plug the hole in midfield which will allow Pogba and Herrera to play more creative roles up the field. Creativeness is what the Red Devils lacked last year and it is the main reason why they had a league high 15 draws. They scored just 54 goals (one less than Bournemouth) and it is hard to see the introduction of two players contributing the additional 30 goals required to challenge for the title. The Mourinho mentality saw them struggle last season and that will not be changing.
They won 12 of their last 13 but a run of 4 consecutive draws early in the season and a record Chelsea run cost them the title. Spurs went undefeated at home and conceded just 26 goals – 7 less than title winners Chelsea. They also netted a league best 86 goals with Kane ending the season with 29. If there is one side that has embraced the ‘team’ concept in the EPL it is Pochettino and his Spurs. The loss of Walker may look big on paper but Trippier is more than capable of slotting in. Pochettino has made no signings but The Wolf says that it will not be that big an issue as long as they do not progress far in the UCL and other competitions. spurs have the most settled squad in the league and the value of that should not be underestimated. They don’t need to accommodate for any new players and the trio of Eriksen, Dele Ali and Kane is something to behold. They combined for 55 goals and 38 assists and with a very good run in the opening 8 weeks if they are a real danger to claim their first EPL title. At double figure odds they are a great bet.
Did someone say ‘Wenger Out’… not only has Wenger stayed, somehow he has managed to keep the entire squad including Aexis Sanchez. The Chilean is in the final year of his contract and the Gunners risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season but Wenger has made it clear that there is no intention to sell him. With the club finally shedding out some cash to buy a world class striker they may well have added the final piece to the puzzle. Most importantly, there is no UCL to worry about and Wenger can get away with playing youngsters in the early rounds of the Europa. Mertesacker, Ramsey and Cazorla spent more than enough time on the sidelines last season and their returns will almost feel like the club has added new players to the squad. They are likely to be in the same position that Chelsea was last season – playing an almost identical XI and having a full week off between matches. They are huge overs at the price!
The Wolf has something to say… When Liverpool signed Jurgen Klopp there was an expectation that he would scour the Bundesliga for both young talent and proven commodities – all at below market prices. This has definitely NOT been the case with Mane, Wijnaldum and Salah the only significant signings. Mane was brilliant until he got injured last season and Salah should give them additional pace on the flanks but by no means are Liverpool in a position to challenge for anything. If Coiutinho mover to the Nou Camp the Reds are zero chance of a top 4 finish.
With City far too short, Chelsea carrying a smaller than required squad and Man Utd struggling to score goals The Wolf will be backing Tottenham and Arsenal in a ‘two for the price of one’. With United and Chelsea both at the $4.50 mark he says there is far better value in backing Spurs and Arsenal with combined odds of more than $5.
Best Bet: Tottenham ($10.00)
Other: Arsenal ($12.00)
Harry Kane ($4.25)
Proven and prolific are the best words to describe Kane’s scoring abilities. Gunning to be the first man since Thierry Henry to claim this award for a 3rd consecutive year. Spurs were the highest scoring team in the EPL last season and will be challenging yet again. Has scored 75 EPL goals over the last 3 years and by season’s end will join Owen, Fowler and Rooney as the only players under the age of 25 to score 100+ Premier League goals.
Romelu Lukaku ($5.00)
Big price move from Everton to Man Utd has people believing he will eclipse the 25 goals scored from last season – unlikely. To begin with Everton scored more goals than the Red Devils last season with Lukaku being their focal point in attack. He will be the main target at United but with Rashford, MArtial and Pogba among other he is likely to turn provider more often this season. There is also the small matter of penalties which he may not be taking this time around.
Sergio Aguero ($8.00)
When he is on the field and fully fit there is no better striker than Aguero in the Premier League – PERIOD! Has 122 EPL goals in just 181 appearances and has a stacked midfield behind him. His combination will David Silva is lethal and Pep will quickly realise that if City are to win the title it will be with Aguero leading the way and not Jesus. The fact that he takes the penalties is a huge bonus.
Alexandre Lacazette ($11.00)
It’s his first year in the EPL and it will take some time for him to adjust. Should get close to 20 goals but that will not be enough to beat out Kane and Aguero. Arsenal’s style will also see him turn provider very regularly which also hurts his chances.
Alvaro Morata ($12.00)
The Wolf is labeling Morata as his big STAY AWAY. Scored just 15 goals in 63 games for Juve and 15 in 25 for Real Madrid – both teams who dominated their respective leagues and scored goals for fun. Diego Costa had the season of season in Chelsea’s title winning run in 2014/15 and still managed just 20 goals. Unproven in the EPL and lacks the class of his rivals.
Alexis Sanchez ($17.00)
Was absolutely phenomenal last year with 11 assists to go with 24 goals. A remarkable performance form a player who predominantly plays behind the striker and it will be almost impossible for him to repeat those efforts again this season. With the addition of Lacazette he will no longer be carrying the Gunners on his own. We could see 2 or even 3 Arsenal players score 15+ goals and that rules out any Gunners players for this award.
Sadio Mane ($34)
Was going great guns last year until injury and the Africa Cup Of Nations disrupted his season. Still managed to score 13 goals but there are simply too many unknowns with Klopp and Liverpool. Will he play centrally? out wide? what will the role of Sturridge be?… Liverpool face Arsenal and Man City in the first month. If we like what we see from him we can probably get a better price come September.
Kelechi Ihenacho ($51.00)
This is some pickup for Leicester. The Mahrez and Vardy show has a season to forget following their title winning run but the addition of Ihenacho could see them turn things around. Was very effective when he got on the field for City and The Wolf is a fan of his pace and positioning. We saw Leicester change to a 4-4-2 which means we should see Ihenacho line up alongside Vardy. He will replace Okazaki who played 36 and 30 games over the last two seasons. If Ihenacho plays that many games he is a genuine smokey at huge odds.
Kane is on course to win this award for the third year in a row and a fit Aguero is the only man that can stop him. Ihenacho is worth a throw at the stumps at a huge price.