Here are the eight things bettors should know about the upcoming EPL campaign:
A New Man in Man City
Manchester City has spent hundreds of millions of Euros trying to build an EPL juggernaut - and it’s safe to say that things haven’t quite worked out to their satisfaction.
Enter renowned coach Pep Guardiola, who intends to get this club in tip-top shape for a run at the league title - and if that means excluding star midfielder Samir Nasri from preseason friendlies due to a bulging belly, then so be it. Guardiola is one of soccer’s most notable task masters, which will likely endear him to a fan base looking for their club to bounce back from last year’s fourth-place result.
City has added a number of impact players, most notably all-world defender John Stones. Oddsmakers evidently like what they see, making City (+250) the slight favorite to win their fifth EPL title.
United They Stand
A new-look Manchester United club takes the field this weekend looking stacked in some areas, and deficient in others.
New manager Jose Mourinho will have an embarrassment of talent to work with this season, highlighted by the additions of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. United would also like to add a central defender, but will reportedly have to shed multiple contracts to make that happen.
Regardless of how the team shapes up over the early part of the season, the trove of talent makes United (+333) one of the teams to beat this season. The biggest question at this point is whether an overflow of talent will lead to disharmony in the dressing room, as former stars like Juan Mata are forced to the sideline.
Changes at Chelsea
Chelsea was left singing the Blues (pun intended) last season after posting a 10th-place finish - a stunning result for the defending EPL champions.
The biggest change took place behind the bench, where Antonio Conte looks to erase the putrid memories of Mourinho’s final season at Chelsea. Expect him to install a more disciplined attack than his predecessor, while aiming to tighten up a defense that conceded 10 goals after the 74th minute in draws or losses that ultimately cost the Blues 17 points in the standings.
One major non-change: The presence of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, who both struggled last year but are expected to bounce back big for a Chelsea side sitting at +550 to win the league title.
Looking to end a 12-year Premier League championship drought. Arsenal cracked open the wallet once more, bringing aboard star midfielder Granit Xhaka.
Yet, the focus for the club this season will rest almost solely on center forward Olivier Giroud. Arsene Wenger failed to add any big-name help up front, though certainly not for a lack of trying. If Giroud can’t put together something resembling the best season of his career, Arsenal likely won’t challenge for a title.
With a defense that enters the season in rough shape - Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista all missed time in the preseason - a slow start could be in the offing. And bettors considering Arsenal at +600 to win the title may want to think twice.
Spurred to Success
Tottenham surged to a third-place finish in last year’s EPL race, and are well positioned to challenge for the title despite major moves made by its competitors.
Largely incapable of keeping up with its big-spending rivals, the Spurs return the majority of last year’s starting XI - a big, fit group that wore down opponents last season. The addition of popular target Victor Wanyama from Southampton provides the kind of depth necessary to register an eighth straight top-six showing, though the bench remains thin on goal-scoring talent.
Barring a rash of injuries, Mauricio Pochettino’s squad should once again challenge for the title - making their +900 price tag easy to stomach.
With the title drought exceeding a quarter-century, desperate times have set in at Liverpool - and they may have found the perfect coach to turn things around.
Liverpool lured Borussia Dortmund legend Jurgen Klopp away from the Bundesliga; he, in turn, signed three impact players from the German first league - Ragnar Klavan, Loris Karius and Joel Matip. Combined with the additions of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool is a vastly better team than the one that stumbled to an eighth-place finish, narrowly missing out on a spot in the Europa League third qualifying round.
Klopp will need his newly-signed talent to hit the ground running - and with most of the other top EPL teams all getting better, Liverpool is a longshot to return its +900 odds to claim the title.
Leicester a Longshot - Again
Fresh off one of the most incredible stories in the history of professional sport, Leicester City comes into the 2016-17 campaign as the team to watch - for better or worse.
Overcoming +500,000 odds was one thing - one truly miraculous thing - but repeating will take an even stronger effort given the improvements of the usual league powers. But credit Leicester City for making a go of it, adding five depth players - including CKSA Moscow forward Ahmed Musa - while retaining the key members of last year’s club, led by emerging superstar Jamie Vardy.
Leicester City (+2,800) will have their hands full juggling an EPL schedule with a suddenly loaded tournament calendar, and that will significantly challenge the team’s depth. This might still be the same team that stunned the soccer world - minus a few players - but oddsmakers don’t see a repeat in the cards - and bettors shouldn’t, either.
Stoke: This Year’s Leicester?
The truth is, no team will ever repeat what Leicester City did, at least from a bookmaker’s standpoint. You likely won’t see any more +500,000 teams, for starters; the lowest odds for the coming season belong to Hull, Burnley and West Brom, each of whom come in at +150,000.
But if you’re looking for a live underdog, consider Stoke City (+50,000), which looked impressive at times last season en route to a third consecutive ninth-place finish. Much will need to happen in order for Stoke to prevail - beginning with an offensive outburst from a team that managed just 41 goals in 38 league games last season - but a better performance from Sheridan Shari and the potential addition of Saido Berahino from West Brom would go a long way in improving the team’s pitiful attack.
It will require a chain of unexpected events - including another rough year for most of the league’s superpowers - for Stoke to even make the top-four. But these things happen. Just ask Leicester City fans.