Ahead of the new Premier League season, The Sportsman once again went behind enemy lines at the HQ of Betfred to find out where the money was going across the wide-ranging markets on offer.
Matt Hulmes spoke to the football trading team to find out the answers to many important questions. Who will come out on top of the tree? Who faces a long hard season battling the drop and who may surprise us all?
MH: Who is the biggest liability to win the Premier League this season?
Trade: Our biggest liability, as it is every single year, is obviously Liverpool. Fred is always keen to get them in the book as he always likes to brag about the Reds’ fans paying for his holidays every year. Well, Betfred became Jetfred two years ago as the punters spent their summer on Fred. Normal service resumed last season though and our push from 5/1 to 7/1 has been very popular.
MH: In your opinion, are Manchester City still the team to beat and how has the Jack Grealish signing affected the market?
Trade: If they sign Harry Kane and keep Kevin De Bruyne fit you are asking not IF they win but how by how many points. Grealish in truth hasn’t really affected the market, the question mark lies with can he do it on the big stage?
MH: Will Chelsea close the gap as European Champions?
Trade: The team see them as Man City’s biggest rivals. We have seen plenty of shrewd money on the season handicap for Chelsea with a seven point start. In a one off game they have shown they can beat them but over a season I doubt they will match City’s consistency which is the reason punters have turned to the season handicap.
MH: What will Liverpool achieve this year?
Trade: The return of Van Dijk will be a major boost and if they can keep players fit, you can see them running any team close. Nevertheless they will probably fall short both domestically and in Europe and are likely to be hampered more than most with players leaving for the African Nations Cup in mid-season.
MH: Do you see Manchester United getting closer?
Trade: They have definitely signed well and are building the foundations for a great team/squad, but it is going to take a lot to get nearer to City. With a good start and fans back in the stadium, the Theatre Of Dreams could play a big part once again and push them close.
MH: Who will be the best of the rest from outside the top four?
Trade: Leicester City are a real solid outfit and with other clubs in a bit of turmoil around them they could capitalize. Midfielder Boubakary Soumare could be a great signing from French champions Lille, while Patson Daka could also prove to be great business from RB Salzburg. They add more depth to an already excellent squad.
Trade: In terms of challenging for title and top four, yes. Teams around them now have so much talent in their squads compared to previous seasons that they have been swallowed up by the chasing pack.
MH: Give us teams to look out for, the 2021/22 surprise packages if you will. Teams who will punch above their weight.
Trade: It’s going to be a risk selling Jack Grealish, however to replace him with Emi Buendia, Danny Ings, Leon Bailey, Ashley Young and possibly a few others, it could be exciting times at Aston Villa. All the teams that have been promoted play good attacking football and I’m really interested to see how Brentford cope in the Premiership.
MH: Who has been best backed in the Golden Boot market? Any surprise moves at bigger prices?
Trade: We have seen money for both of Leicester’s front two, Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho while at a bigger price Michail Antonio who looks to be the sole striking option for West Ham. However, It has been a market that’s not seen much money due to the uncertainty over the future of Kane and the impending arrival of Lukaku.
MH: Whose time is coming to an end in the Premier League and won’t escape the trap door of relegation?
Trade: Southampton. The loss of Danny Ings will have them scraping for goals while Leicester are strong suitors for Jannik Vestergaard.
We have also seen support for Brighton to go down which is against the grain of many pundits who back them for a strong season. The loss of Ben White could have a major impact on their defence while they still haven’t added goals up top which has always been their Achilles’ heel. Money suggests the South Coast sides could have long hard seasons ahead.
MH: Give us your own best punt for the PL Season.
Trade: Already touched upon this, Southampton to be relegated. Last season, without Ings’ goals would have seen the Saints in the bottom three and Ralph Hasenhuttl spoke of his frustration when he was out the side. It is a big ask for Adam Armstrong to fill those shoes and quotes of 7/2 for the drop seem more than fair.