2022 kicks off with Manchester City in a strong position at the top of the Premier League. Can anybody stop the reigning champions from claiming the crown?
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Who do Bettors Favor?
Manchester City’s ruthless form, combined with some recent inconsistency from their main challengers has had a dramatic effect on the online sportsbooks futures markets for the Premier League during December and City head into the New Year as the overwhelming -1200 favorites.
Liverpool are now clearly established as their main challengers in the betting markets, but are as big as +900 for the Premier League title, while Chelsea have slipped back to third in the betting, though clear of the chasing pack, which is currently headed by Tottenham and Arsenal.
Betting on the Top Three in the Premier League
It seems as though almost nothing can slow Manchester City down. The reigning champions have established a ten-point gap ahead of the rest of the field, with a little over half of the season gone and under Pep Guardiola they have not looked like the type of team that will falter under pressure.
City have now won eleven consecutive matches, and have also played their two main challengers – Chelsea and Liverpool – away from home, so have the theoretical advantage there too.
For Liverpool, the Christmas period was disastrous. They dropped seven points across three games and had a winnable fixture against Leeds postponed. Worse still, they will be without Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for a month or so during AFCON 2021.
Short of a major and unprecedented City collapse, it is hard to see Liverpool closing that gap, indeed, it seems more likely that City will pull further ahead. Chelsea won’t be suffering any absences during AFCON 2021 but their form loss has mirrored Liverpool’s with eight points dropped across five matches, and they’ve picked up a drawing habit that will make it all but impossible to catch the leaders.
Betting on the Premier League Challengers
With the Premier League title race close to over there are more interesting bets to be found among the challenging group fighting for a top-four place.
Manchester United continue to look overrated in this department given that their form hasn’t improved significantly since Ralf Rangnick took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The interim coach may be more experienced than his predecessor but the task of rebuilding at Old Trafford is a long-term one and odds of +160 on a United top-four finish look too short.
Tottenham under Antonio Conte can’t be underestimated, but there is a stronger alternative in their north London rivals Arsenal. They’ve been on a consistent upward curve since the middle of September and were unlucky not to end Manchester City’s run of victories in their last Premier League outing. They are still improving so their current odds make little sense.
Who will be relegated from the Premier League?
After threatening a revival following the appointment of Dean Smith, Norwich City have lost their last five in a row, without scoring a goal. Remarkably, they are still only three points short of safety and there’s a clear gap emerging between the bottom four and the rest.
Sportsbooks are reckoning on Newcastle avoiding the drop, but they’ve only won one game all season and they are running out of time to make the new signings they need to turn the season around. They are two points behind Watford and level with Burnley but of those two, Burnley have shown more fight despite suffering significant COVID 19-related absences and I would be wary of opposing them in a relegation scrap, so Newcastle look the best option for anyone considering a play in the relegation market.
Can Anyone Catch Salah?
Mohammed Salah has been in remarkable form this season, returning to the kind of deadly and prolific touch that helped him to make such a big impact when he first arrived in the Premier League.
The Egyptian star has scored 16 goals in the Premier League so far this campaign, a total that is nearly double that of his nearest pursuer, teammate Diogo Jota, who is on 10.
The best hope that Salah’s rivals have of catching him is the fact that he will be on national duty at AFCON 2021 for most of January, but that factor may be overblown. At most, Salah will miss three Premier League games, and that is assuming that Egypt reach the final. If they were to be knocked out at the quarter-final stage or earlier, Salah could conceivably only miss two top-flight games.
Jota would have to score at a rate of two goals a game to catch up with his teammate and for the other leading contenders such as Jamie Vardy and Cristiano Ronaldo, the required rate is even higher. Even then, such is Salah’s form that you would still bank on him beating his rivals to the Golden Boot.
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