08/22/18 - Nostradamus
The favourites, the outsiders and the prices on who to back in the English topflight this season
Maurizio Sarri has been backed as the manager with the greatest potential to bring the Premier League back to London this season with Chelsea priced up as the favourites for glory in the capital.
He is one of three new coaches appointed by teams based within the M25. Unai Emery has replaced Arsene Wenger after 22 years at Arsenal.
Manuel Pellegrini is now in place at West Ham. Despite winning the title during his time in charge of Manchester City, his new team are rank outsiders, although that didn't stop Leicester City from shocking the world to become champions of England in 2016.
The Foxes were 5,000/1 to lift the title that season after surviving relegation in 2015. Bookmakers have since become more cautious over their pre-season odds.
Fans of Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford and West Ham can still get a decent price on their teams pulling off the impossible, however. All four clubs are 500/1 to 'do a Leicester' this season.
But who are the favourites, and what do the Premier League betting odds say about their chances?
Last season, Pep Guardiola lifted the Premier League title and set new records for goals scored and points won as his ideas finally bore fruit in spectacular fashion.
Sergio Aguero was the top scorer for City as they finished 19 points ahead of their local rivals Manchester United but it wasn't all about the firepower of their star striker.
However, they do have weaknesses. Last season, in the Premier League and the Champions League, Liverpool beat Man City through the speed and intensity of their own attacking play. It isn't easily done but any side that can get around the back could expose the champions and their soft underbelly.
First, they'll have to somehow win the ball off City without leaving their own half open to abuse. That is no mean feat, which is why last season's winners remain the favourites at 8/13.
After giving City a bloody nose to deny them an unbeaten season in the Premier League, and a route into the last four of the Champions League, Jurgen Klopp's side look set to challenge for major honours according to the bookmakers.
The Reds have spent big this summer. Alisson Becker has been signed to sort out their weakness in goal. Fabinho and Naby Keita should add steel and class to their midfield options.
Inconsistent and unpredictable, Xherdan Shaqiri could be a valuable wildcard. This recruitment drive follows on from a world record move for Virgil van Dijk in January too.
Yet the doubters will point out that Klopp is still to win a trophy with Liverpool, and while their attacking play can be spectacular, at times their defence is all too brittle, even with the reinforcement they added to the back line in the new year.
A total of five players were involved in 20 goals or more, as scorers or creators of goals, more than any other Premier League club. For context, only two other teams had more than one player to pass that mark - Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for Liverpool and Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez for Leicester City.
What have City done to reinforce their squad in the transfer window this summer? They went and signed Mahrez, another prolific player for goals and assists who will weave into the patterns of the system Guardiola has put into action at the Etihad Stadium.
Depth could be an issue too. It wouldn't be the first time that Anfield produced a strong starting XI without the squad to actually lift the Premier League title, especially if they once again find themselves fighting across multiple flanks come the latter half of the season.
After finishing runners up last season, Jose Mourinho's team have dropped a position during the summer to find themselves priced up behind Liverpool in the race to topple the favourites, and reigning champions, Manchester City.
In the transfer window they have signed the young Diogo Dalot to succeed Antonio Valencia at right back and added Fred, a versatile midfielder who could finally provide the balance and cover that Paul Pogba needs to show just how good he can be on a weekly basis.
However, the feeling is that the former Chelsea manager wanted more from the club's recruitment efforts, and his demeanour has only further soured over the course a short pre-season trip after becoming moody during his second season in charge last year.
Those who watched his implosion at Stamford Bridge unfold see worrying signs that a repeat could be on the cards but don't be surprised if there's still some fight left in the cantankerous tactician.
Sarri is now in place at Stamford Bridge and in Jorginho he can still call upon the midfield conductor who made his title-challenging Napoli side whirl last season in Serie A.
The negativity that came to surround Antonio Conte in his final year at Chelsea has given way to hope and optimism over the attacking philosophy of his successor and what it could bring to the club.
If the likes of Eden Hazard do stay beyond the close of the transfer window, and the squad gets up to speed with the ideas of their new coach quickly, the Blues could be in for an exciting campaign after tumbling out of the top four in 2018.
Yet while Klopp has failed to win anything of note with Liverpool, Sarri has never lifted a trophy in his career, and while Roman Abramovich may want to appear keen to give time to a manager capable of building a team that play great football, giving chances to the players already at the club, the latest Italian to take charge at Stamford Bridge will need to produce silverware to survive.
A Premier League win in his first season? Judging by the odds, it can't be ruled out. Europa League football on a Thursday night could be a drag.
Mauricio Pochettino has developed a habit of steering Spurs into the top four, come what may, but after ending last season with a thinly-veiled threat to reconsider his options if the club do not back him in the transfer window, the lack of new recruits this summer may be a source of concern.
Then again, Tottenham already boast one of the best and most settled starting XIs in the Premier League when their best players are all fit. Harry Kane is tipped to go all the way in the battle for the Golden Boot again.
Dele Alli, Erik Lamela, Son Heung-min and of course Christian Eriksen have plenty of quality to support and supply the striker. Toby Alderweireld's future is the only blemish at the back. He could still leave before deadline day passes.
Perhaps the plan is make more out of Lucas Moura, the January signing from Paris Saint-Germain who barely got a kick last season?
Whatever Pochettino hopes to do this year, he will be up against it with Arsenal and Chelsea having appointed two new head coaches capable of stirring a revival at the Emirates and Stamford Bridge, with Spurs the only London club in the Champions League.
If reinforcements don't arrive then another season juggling multiple competitions could see competitors with deeper squads gain ground, with the margins for error in the top four tighter than ever before.
The Unai Emery era has begun. After more than two decades of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal fans have an unfamiliar feeling of starting a new season with a new manager and uncertainty over what to expect.
While their opponents were waiting on the results of the World Cup to make major signings, the Gunners were quick off the mark to snap up a number of cheap and free deals to add experience if not upgrades to their squad, although the signing of midfielder Lucas Torreira could prove to be inspired.
Advocates of Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil have long claimed that Arsenal have lacked a proper enforcer to protect them in the middle of the park and that is exactly the sort of niche that the Uruguayan can fill. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still has so much more to show as a potential Golden Boot-winner of the future.
Emery will find himself in a similar situation to Sarri with Europe League football to contend with. That could upset his plans for the Premier League.
Having lifted Europe's second tier trophy on three occasions with Sevilla during his time as manager, he may see value in committing to that competition as an alternative way of winning back a place in the Champions League for 2019.
Other notable Premier League winners odds
While there may be Watford fans who aren't ready to wish him well, Marco Silva's Everton are priced up at 250/1 to bring the Premier League title back to Goodison Park - the same odds as Wolverhampton Wanderers.
This summer has seen Wolves raid the Portuguese league and make the most of their contacts across Europe to make some surprising signings, including Euro 2016-winners Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho.
Former champions Leicester City are 300/1. A touch less generous than 5,000/1.
And London's other clubs outside the top six? Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford and West Ham are all 500/1