As we headed into the international break the top of the Premiership table had a familiar ring to it: Man City, Man Utd, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Burnley, Liverpool. Obviously, Burnley have no business in the top six but it should not take long for Liverpool to overhaul them and the Big Six will have reasserted its dominance over the rest of the league. Those clubs look nailed on for the top six spots once more and the only intrigue will be in seeing who finishes where. But a really interesting market to analyze is the odds on the Premier League without the big six, where plenty of clubs are in with a shout.
Everton spent big this summer and were widely tipped to break into the top six, with the seventh position looking like the minimum they could hope for. However, the start of the campaign has not exactly gone to script for Ronald Koeman’s men and they find themselves languishing in 16th, with just seven points from seven games. They have badly missed leading goal scorer Romelu Lukaku, who joined Man Utd in a £75 million deal, and the replacements have not yet lived up to their billing. Wayne Rooney has had off the field problems, Gylfi Sigurdsson has not yet clicked and Koeman is now odds-on favourite to be the next manager to lose his job after losing at home to Burnley last time out (best priced at 4/6 with Coral, although West Ham’s Slaven Bilic also looks an interesting value option at 6/1 with Bet Victor).
Everton’s woes open the door for the rest of the clubs in the Premiership, but all of them lack consistency. The Toffees are the favourites to do it, priced at 10/3 with Sky Bet, and they are only five points behind Burnley so they have a great chance if they manage to turn their season around. Burnley are 20/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral and they have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, beating Chelsea and Everton and drawing with Tottenham and Liverpool. However, a defeat at the hands of West Brom and a draw with Huddersfield show that they need to improve against the smaller clubs if they are to push for a European place.
Right now it seems unrealistic to expect Burnley to finish seventh due to their lack of financial firepower. Watford are flying high under Marco Silva, and they are 8/1 in this market, but again they have not invested too much in the squad and it would take real heroics for them to go from 17th last season to seventh this time around. West Ham and Bournemouth are struggling and it is probably too soon for newly promoted Newcastle.
But there are a couple of clubs with the stature, quality, and strength in depth to really make a push for seventh place this season. First up, Southampton, who are 7/2 with Ladbrokes. The Saints have finished eighth, sixth, seventh and eighth in their last four seasons and they should be there or thereabouts this time around. They have taken just eight points from their opening seven games, but if they get Virgil Van Dijk back to his best then they have a real chance. They are so ambitious that they sacked Claude Puel for finishing eighth last season and Mauricio Pellegrino has been tasked with improving on that. Their form has been poor so far, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
But an even more exciting option could be Leicester, the 2015/16 champions. They too have endured a miserable start to the season and are in the relegation zone with just five points so far. They are in horrendous form under Craig Shakespeare, they have so much quality going forwards in former Players of the Year Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, while Harry Maguire looks a great addition at the back. Stoke, Watford, and Burnley are decent teams, but it looks like Everton, Southampton and Leicester are the best equipped to finish seventh, and the odds on Leicester are the most
attractive. At 8/1 with Bet Victor, the Foxes are really well priced. All of their rivals have started slowly too and Leicester have plenty of time to climb the table. They have been unlucky so far in a few of their games, such as Arsenal away, and they have the quality to go on a run, so they could make a great futures option.