Author: Tom Allen
Our resident football expert Tom Allen casts his eye over the 2011 Premier
League, makes his predictions and tips and suggests his pre-season best bets.
The 2011/12 Premier League season promises to be the most competitive for
many a year with five teams considered genuine title challengers by the
bookmakers and the standard looks strong to me from top to bottom.
Liverpool fifth favourites at a top price of just 14/1, the odds reflect how
close it is anticipated to be but I expect the Manchester clubs to dominate and
believe there is excellent value to be had in the United-City straight forecast
The Red Devils have strengthened in all the right areas over the summer while
I rate their near neighbours as the chief threat.
City boss Roberto Mancini clearly saw what he liked at the end of last
season, when his men stormed to Champions League qualification and FA Cup glory,
and they can continue on an upward curve with Sergio Aguero the only big name
signing over the summer months to date.
Chelsea, under new manager Andre-Villas Boas, will do well to break the
north-west duopoly with an ageing squad that is seemingly on the wane while it
will be fascinating to see if Liverpool can re-establish themselves under Kenny
I think they can and it is
Arsenal, not surprisingly, that looks most under threat of the top four.
While it looks relatively straightforward to anticipate what might happen at
the summit, the waters are muddied the further down the Premier League we look
and it appears wide open for any number of clubs to claim a top-10 finish.
Tottenham, who have been dormant in the transfer market despite experiencing
Champions League football last season, look just about best of the rest but
Spurs fans will be frustrated by Harry Redknapp's lack of activity, normally
where the Englishman thrives, and they could be challenged by Everton for sixth
The Toffees, under David Moyes, have been notoriously slow starters in recent
years but their first team is on par with the Londoners and Everton have kept
hold of all their key men this summer.
I love the look of
Everton at 7/4 with
365 in their Without the Big 6 market and also couldn't put you off siding
with the Goodison Park club in
Stan James' 'Group B' where they are pitched against Spurs, Sunderland,
Aston Villa and Newcastle. The 9/2 is value in what looks a two-horse race.
I don't see any of the last named trio being good enough to challenge for a
place in Europe, Villa look in a period of transition with a change of manager
and following the sales of Ashley Young and Steward Downing, and it promises to
be very concentrated indeed from eighth downwards.
Fulham, under new boss Martin Jol, and Stoke, who continue to make shrewd
acquisitions, look best equipped to claim top half finishes but one side who
could just surprise a few is
Wolves and I have them staying up with something to spare.
Mick McCarthy has added Roger Johnson to bolster his defence and Wolves
showed just what they were capable of last term with wins over each of the top
Mick has them very well organised but Wolves have several individuals that
can win any game, too, including the excellent Matt Jarvis, and look good value
to finish higher than the trio of promoted clubs and Wigan at 9/4 with Coral.
Of the three newcomers it is QPR that I fear for most and they are tipped for
relegation having spent virtually nothing under Neil Warnock in a bid for
Premier League survival. Championship winners they may have been in May, but
Rangers look undercooked and the 13/8 about them making a swift return to the
second tier will do for me.
In addition to QPR,
Blackburn must be value at 3/1 across the board to succumb having narrowly
avoided the drop last term and it could also be the end of Wigan's extended and
largely impressive stay in the top flight.
Roberto Martinez, the Latics boss, has won many friends but the loss off
Charles N'Zogbia should not be underestimated and Wigan look very vulnerable.
Blue Square's 2/1 is too good to turn down.
There are dozens of markets for punters to get stuck into as the big kick-off
approaches and while I've already flagged up the chances of Robin van Persie in
the top goal scorer market elsewhere, take the 10/1 before it goes, I can't help
but think Bobby Zamora is overpriced in the same market.
Fulham's main man has an excellent strike rate and Martin Jol has always
prefers his teams to play on the front foot. 66/1 is too big.
3pts Man Utd-Man City Straight Forecast @ 13/2 (Bet
3pts Everton without the Big 6 @ 7/4 (Bet
1pt Everton to win 'Group B' @ 9/2 (Stan
2pts Wolves to win 'Group D' @ 9/4 (Coral)
2pts QPR to be relegated @ 13/8 (Paddy
1pt Blackburn to be relegated @ 3/1 (Bodog)
2pts Wigan to be relegated @ 2/1 (Blue
1pt Each Way Bobby Zamora Top Goal Scorer @ 66/1 (Bodog)
Posted by Tom Allen at 00:04 on 12 August 2011