Premier League Preview 2010/2011
It's been a tough summer for English football fans after a dismal World cup performance from the national side but all that will be forgotten when club rivalries resume again on August 14th.
Despite a relatively quiet summer in the transfer market Chelsea remain the favourites with William Hill at 13/8 to retain their crown. Carlo Ancelotti's men suffered a pre-season defeat at the hands of Ajax but still enjoy the support of many punters and are 10/1 to repeat last year's domestic double.
Didier Drogba's recent calf operation means he could well miss the start of the season but that shouldn't cause too much panic at Stamford Bridge with opening games of West Brom, Wigan and Stoke.
Despite pushing Chelsea all the way last term Man United only had the Carling Cup to show for their efforts and will be looking to go one better in the League this time around. If new signing Javier Hernandez, who had an impressive World Cup, can settle quickly into English football and Wayne Rooney hits top form the 5/2 about United regaining the title may prove to be excellent value.
Roberto Mancini has been busy all summer adding more players to his ever-expanding squad at Manchester City. He will be hoping pounds spent will convert into more points and a higher league position this term or he could be the first manager to leave his position; he is currently 5/1 second favourite behind Chris Hughton (4/1).
A top four position for City (1/2) would appear to be the absolute minimum the board and fans at Eastlands will expect and the 9/2 available to win the Premiership outright and 5/4 without the big two (United and Chelsea) is sure to attract interest from the blue half of Manchester.
Arsenal's youngsters stayed in contention for the title until late into the last campaign. Holding onto Cesc Fabregas will be crucial to their hopes of winning the title (6/1) but with Arsene Wenger again reluctant to bring in big name signings they are 2/9 to be trophy-less again at the end of May.
Roy Hodgson could still have a fight on his hands to keep Fernando Torres but by pulling off the signing of Joe Cole he has given the Kop a much needed boost. Whilst some Reds may hold hopes of a title challenge, the more realistic among them will be looking at the William Hill odds of 13/8 for a return to the top four and the regaining of their Champions League spot.
Spurs have an interesting season ahead with their first ever appearance in the Champions League. With competition at the top of the table getting stronger and the distraction of the big games in Europe it could prove difficult for the North London side to retain their top four place. William Hill make it 11/4
that they do. For the more ardent Spurs fans Hills offer 300/1 for a Premiership/Champions League double! Surely not even Harry could pull that one off?
Everton have been unbeaten in pre-season following a successful tour of Australia. They are sure to be as hard as ever to beat this term and will be looking to qualify for Europe. They will have outside hopes of a top four place at 7/1.
Birmingham City exceeded all expectations last season and have shown ambition in the transfer market this summer with bids for the highly rated Charles N'Zogiba amongst others. If they can continue to improve they may fancy their chances of overtaking rivals Aston Villa to become top Midlands club at 6/1.
With the possible sale of James Milner and rumours Martin O'Neill is far from happy with the club's transfer policy, Aston Villa don't look any closer to their aim of reaching the Top four this year with William Hill offering 8/1. Fellow
Midlanders Stoke (3/1) and Wolves (6/1) will have some hopes of a top half finish whilst perennial yo-yo club West Bromwich Albion will surely only have ambitions to survive (8/11).
Fulham's season is difficult predict and it wouldn't be a great surprise to see them in the top half (2/1) or to be struggling following Roy Hodgson's departure, the UEFA cup finalists are only 6/1 to be relegated.
London rivals West Ham are equally hard to predict under new boss Avram Grant, they're 9/2 for relegation and 3/1 for a top ten finish.
Sam Allardyce knows how to get points in the Premiership and his Blackburn side should be able to keep their Premiership status comfortably intact, they are 13/8 for a top half finish.
Newcastle bounced back to the Premiership at their first attempt in impressive style and they should be good enough to stay up. They are 8/11 to be top promoted club and Toon fans could even be tempted to back their team to finish above rivals Sunderland and become top North East club once again at 11/10.
Wigan ended last season with an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea and will need to shore up their defence if they are to survive this term; they are just 2/1 to be relegated.
Wolves (2/1) and Bolton (3/1) are amongst the other teams seen as most likely to struggle against the dreaded drop.
Championship playoff winners Blackpool will be a popular bet to finish bottom at 4/5. However, fans of the Tangerines will be hopeful they follow the lead of fellow unfashionable clubs such as Wigan and Stoke who defied the bookmakers by surviving in the top division. William Hill offer 12/5 they will do just that. The more optimistic amongst the Bloomfield Road faithful can get 12/1 on a top half finish.