How is the Premier League title race shaping up?
The 2013/14 Premier League is shaping us as potentially the most unpredictable in recent years, with so many factors coming into play at once to offer the fans a real sense of the unknown.
With perennial title contenders Man United and Chelsea, as well as former champions Man City all taking to the field this season with a new man at the helm one could be forgiven about being cautious regarding these club’s individual chances at the top of the league, but all have appointed managers with swathes of experience, and only City have brought in a man with no previous Premier League tenure.
United’s appointment of David Moyes to succeed the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson may have been met with some caution from various quarters owing to the Scotsman’s previous allegiance to Everton, but the champions appear to have struggled early doors following their impressive first-day display against Swansea.
Chelsea’s new man is not only a man with past experience in England’s top flight, but was also capable of leading the Blues to their first Premier League crown during his first stint in charge at Stamford Bridge, and so despite the transition in west London there also remains a sense of continuity and perhaps stability that the fans have been craving arguably since Jose Mourinho’s original departure in 2007.
Manuel Pellegrini has had multitudes of success on the continent, but his approach when placed in contrast to the English game remain unproven, but their current occupation of fifth in the league certainly seems to offer valid optimism for the Citizens’ support.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s imaginative capture of Mesut Ozil, meanwhile, seems to have breathed new life into the north Londoners and despite the £40m-plus price tag there have been murmurings that the German could prove the catalyst to returning the top crown to the club in the vein that Eric Cantona helped end Man United’s 26-year championship hunt in 1993.
On the sports betting front, despite early signs being encouraging for Arsene Wenger’s men, Arsenal sit only third favourites to lift the trophy in May, with Betfair offering 5/1, preferring Man City (at 2/1, though 9/4 is available at other bookies) and Chelsea (at 11/4, with 3/1 the best offering at PaddyPower and YouWin). Indeed, they only sit slightly ahead of Moyes’ men at 9/1. These odds seem to offer good value to potential punters, as Wenger’s side look to be firing on all cylinders at present, with their recent draw against West Brom being the first points they have dropped since their 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.
Verdict: Arsenal certainly seem to offer the best value, appearing capable of lifting the crown and having good (if not spectacular) odds. Interestingly Liverpool, who are presently level with the Gunners, have a 9/1 offering, but Arsenal look a better bet at this stage.