Bookmakers’ odds can be an objective check on team selection and the availability of bets covering the whole season lets us check our Gameweek 2 line ups. The actual odds are unimportant, it is the order in which teams or players appear and the sizes of the gaps between them that matter. None of the following should be taken as a betting tip and remember, BeGambleAware. Many of the odds mentioned can be found here. All odds are from before the season kicked off and so show bookmakers initial expectations without queering the pitch with the action so far.
Expected Total Goals Scored
Manchester City and Liverpool are obviously predicted to be the season’s highest goal scorers but it is striking how strongly City are favoured between the two. City are 1/3 favourites (bet £3, win £1, get your £3 back), with Liverpool at 9/4. Chelsea and Manchester United are 12/1 shots, with Tottenham and Arsenal at 66/1.
Another view of this is through odds on scoring over a given total of goals. These odds (shown in each team’s specials) are mostly comparable, with the goals threshold varying by team for the same priced bet. At odds of 17/20, you can bet on the following teams exceeding their stated goals total for the season: Manchester City (102.5 goals), Liverpool (80.5), Manchester United (73.5), Arsenal (60.5), Tottenham (59.5), Leicester (57.5).
With 17/20 also being offered on the opposite bet (to not exceed that total), these thresholds are exactly the bookmaker’s expectation for total season goals. The slightly shorter odds than even money is the bookmaker’s profit margin. The expectation is that Manchester City will score 22 more goals than Liverpool, 42 more than Arsenal and 43 more than Tottenham! I’ll come back to that when considering a team’s talisman. These odds are not offered on all teams. Chelsea are offered at 23/20 to exceed 76.5 goals, so not a consistent comparison but similar to Manchester United.
Expected Total Goals Conceded
Now turning to defensive expectations, the expectation for total goals conceded (as you can bet at odds of 17/20 on them conceding either more or fewer than these totals) start with Liverpool (30.5) and Manchester City (31.5). There has been plenty of discussion on these pages regarding whether to double up on Liverpool’s defence but these odds have them only one goal tighter than Manchester City. The silence is deafening when it comes to talk of getting City’s defenders after Gameweek 1.
Continuing the list, we have Manchester United (40.5), Wolves (42.5), Arsenal (46.5), Tottenham and Leicester (48.5). Again, not every team was offered. Chelsea were again offered inconsistently, at a level similar to Tottenham and Leicester’s 48.5. They were poor last season but have made two good defensive signings.
Total Clean Sheets
Turning to the odds for the most clean sheets, Manchester City actually lead that market at 9/4, with Liverpool at 7/2, followed by Manchester United (9/1) and Burnley (12/1). Arsenal and Leicester (16/1) are ahead of Wolves (18/1). Teams with cheap defenders and comparatively short odds are Leeds (20/1), Crystal Palace and Newcastle (25/1). I think the bookmakers don’t know what to expect from Leeds, there are other odds that are more pessimistic for them.
The take-aways from these defensive odds are to consider Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) and those teams above with budget options. If any other City defender emerges that appears to start regularly (I know, it’s Pep), they should also be a target.
Expected Lowest-scoring Teams
Moving on to the strugglers, this page shows odds offered by various bookmakers on the lowest-scoring team. There is variation but Fulham and Crystal Palace have the shortest odds, followed by West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle. This poses a problem for owners of Aleksandar Mitrović (£6.0m), not to mention being made a substitute. Can a team’s talisman overcome the attacking limitations of his colleagues? It is possible but it could end badly.
The same problem exists for owners of Matheus Pereira (£6.0) and Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m). Newcastle’s signing of Callum Wilson (£6.5m) might help but it hasn’t shifted the odds away from Newcastle being the fourth most likely team at 13/2 to be the league’s lowest scorers. Comparing Saint-Maximin with his competition, Stuart Armstrong’s (£5.5m) Southampton are 25/1 to be lowest scorers, with ten teams more likely for that wooden spoon. Looking at the season points spreads, Southampton are priced to get more points more than Newcastle.
Top Goalscorer Odds
Taking the point about reliance on a talisman to the top end, it applies to Harry Kane (£10.5m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m). Although they lead the market for top goalscorer as 5/1 shots, remember that their teams are expected to score over 40 goals fewer than Manchester City. This reminds us to expect little by way of assists and to watch for failings in their supply line. To me, that Gameweek 3 switch to Manchester City looks a good ploy. Continuing the top goalscorer odds, we have Mohammed Salah (£12.0m) next at 11/2, followed by Sergio Aguero (£10.5m) (15/2), Timo Werner (£9.5m) (10/1) and Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) (11/1).
Top Assists Odds
Moving on to assists, Kevin de Bruyne (£11.5m) is the clear favourite for most assists. Next is Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m), ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), whilst another site prices Fernandes and Alexander-Arnold the same. Mohamed Salah has shorter odds than Sadio Mane (£12.0m), as he does in goal scoring markets. Bookmakers clearly favour Salah of these two equally priced players.
To summarise then, bookmakers expect Manchester City to outscore other teams by a distance and match Liverpool’s defence. Consider the pressure on a talisman from being in a less prolific team, whether that is a relegation candidate or a top-half team. Finally, consider budget defenders from teams with comparatively short odds for keeping the most clean sheets this season.
Finally, on Manchester City, the impression I formed from Project Restart was that having the best footballers, the empty stadia/ training ground environment suited them. If that is true, it could explain why the bookies back them to not just close the gap but overcome it.