Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Premier League Preview Part 1: Title Race

We are two weeks into the 2017-18 English Premier League season. And believe it or not, it is quite easy to see a few tendencies already. Some streaks will not maintain and some teams will eventually break out. But with only 20 games being played out of a total of 380, we have enough evidence to predict which teams will go where once it’s all said and done.

In the first part of our preview, we will focus on the teams who have title aspirations. The ones everybody has tipped as the candidates to take home the trophy in Matchweek 38, or maybe sooner. Through the first two weeks there is a clear favourite, but a handful of teams have enough talent to turn things around in the coming weeks.

Who Is The Biggest Favourite So Far?

Yes, you guessed correctly. Manchester United look like the biggest favourites to win the EPL title in the 2017-18 campaign. Granted, there have been only two weeks of action. But Jose Mourinho’s men have simply been too good to discard, and their two 4-0 wins against West Ham United and Swansea City have done nothing but confirming that.

United did a good job to strengthen the side during the summer. The arrivals of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku are already proving their worth, and Victor Lindelöf should be a solid addition to the defensive line. And there is talk of them possibly adding Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the transfer window. Can you imagine an attack with Lukaku and Zlatan that also features Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba behind them? That is a combination not many Premier League squads will be able to stop.

Zlatan or no Zlatan, United have arguably looked like the top team in the league after the first two weeks. They are yet to concede a goal, and netting eight times in two games is something quite difficult. And keep an eye on Lukaku, who has three goals already. The Belgian could very well end the year as the league’s top scorer if he can keep this up. After all, he is 2/5 to score over 19.5 goals this season.

Who Are Their Biggest Threats?

We can list Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal as candidates for the title. But all of them have already displayed inconsistencies that Manchester United has not shown.

Out of this group, Tottenham and Arsenal appear to be the ones with least chances to mount a title challenge. Arsenal simply do not look good, and if they lose Alexis Sanchez, then they might be forced to settle with a Europa League berth for the second straight year. And on the other hand, Tottenham have struggled to improve the side following last week’s impressive season. And they might not be able to sneak into the top of the table considering how improved other squads look.

Neither club have looked like a threat to win the title based on recent odds as well. Arsenal are 16/1 to finish at the top of the standings, while Tottenham are slightly better at 10/1.

Liverpool are a polarizing team, and it’s hard to see them mounting a title challenge as well. And quite honestly, they are in a similar position to Arsenal when it comes to their star player. If they can keep Philippe Coutinho away from Barcelona, then The Reds are likely to be a top-four team. But if they don’t, then it will be a long year for the Merseyside club. For what is worth, they only are 16/1 to win the EPL crown. That number would surely go down in case Coutinho departs for FC Barcelona.

That leaves Chelsea and City as United’s most likely threats in the early going. The edge for City lies on their depth, however. They have a squad capable of competing with anyone. Meanwhile, Chelsea get seriously weakened when they are missing one or two of their starters. As if that wasn’t enough, The Blues won’t have their top scorer from last season in Diego Costa. So far, Alvaro Morata does not look capable of replacing his scoring tally. For what is worth, the Spaniard is 8/11 to score over 17.5 goals this season. And with Eden Hazard and Pedro out, Antonio Conte has been trying to find ways to make their attack a dangerous one again. It’s safe to say his efforts have been subpar, at least.

One Team To Watch: Manchester City

As mentioned above and after discarding the other potential candidates, it would not be a surprise if the title race this year goes down between the two Manchester clubs. In fact, The Citizens remain the favourites to go all the way, as they are 6/4 to lift the trophy, while United only are 11/5,

I mean, who wouldn’t want a title definition between Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, just like the ones these two used to have in Spain back in the day? But aside from the fun aspect of it, there is no question City are well-equipped to compete for the title.

First of all, the Citizens have a capable manager in Guardiola. The Spaniard knows what it takes to win everywhere he goes, even if that was not the case last year. Therefore, there is no doubt he will be looking for a bounce-back campaign. And if last year’s team was good, this season’s one s even better after signing Ederson, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker. The arrivals will give City quite a boost defensively. And that’s all you need when the attacking line features players such as Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and Gabriel Jesus.

It is still quite early, but the title race is shaping up to be one of the closest ones in recent years. And it would be even better if two bitter rivals such as United and City are at the top of it. Of course, that’s unless any of the London or Liverpool want to do anything to stop them.

Fasten your seatbelts, everyone. The Premier League ride has just begun.

Interesting Betting Odds To Watch

Alvaro Morata is 8/11 to score over 17.5 goals this season. That number goes up to 13/5 if he scores between 20 to 24 goals.

Romelu Lukaku is 2/5 to score over 19.5 goals this season.

Manchester City are 6/4 to win the title.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are only 11/5 to lift the trophy at the end of the campaign.

Liverpool are 16/1 to win the EPL crown.

Arsenal are 16/1 to finish at the top of the standings, while Tottenham are slightly better at 10/1.


Juan Pablo Aravena

A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.



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