Shouting the odds – Who the bookies back for the season

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.


18 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rotation's Alter Ego
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 9 Years
    9 days, 2 hours ago

    Great stuff, thank you CircusMonkey - sorry I couldn't get this up earlier for you!

    Surprised to see City ranked so highly defensively - I think United could feel a bit hard-done there, can see them doing pretty well in that regard and they only conceded one less than City last season.

    Lots to think about here, cheers!

    1. Major League Shocker
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      9 days, 1 hour ago

      Probably assuming Koulibaly will be signed.

      That said, despite the perception that City were very poor defensively, they only conceded 35 last season even with Laporte out for more than half the season.

    2. Forza
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      8 days, 6 hours ago

      High expectations for City's defence doesn't surprise me at all.


      When people talk about City, silly memes appear to get more traction than stats and facts. It's just a shame that they rotate their most attacking defenders.

  2. Major League Shocker
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    9 days, 1 hour ago

    Man Utd to score over 73.5 goals, Chelsea 12/1 to score the most goals, and Liverpool 7/2 to keep the most CS seem like good bets. If not Liverpool then I'd go for Wolves at 18/1 -- lowest xGC after the restart, and 4th best defensive team in the FiveThirtyEight rankings.

  3. Flair
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    9 days, 1 hour ago

    Arsenal, Leicester, Burnley all ahead of Wolves for CS is insanity.

    1. DazF
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      9 days, 46 mins ago


    2. Sanchit
      • 5 Years
      7 days, 4 hours ago

      Those odds are calculated after thousands of work hours by analysts.
      Doubt anyone and everyone but never the odds.

  4. Make America Greta Again
    • 6 Years
    9 days, 44 mins ago

    I'd bet my house that Liverpool will concede more than 30.5goals in the season, expect North of 40 goals.

    1. circusmonkey
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      8 days, 21 hours ago

      That's having seen Saturday's game. All odds here are from before the weekend.

  5. JustSomeGuy
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    9 days, 40 mins ago

    Little odd that you're partnered with Bet365 but link to other Bookies...

    1. circusmonkey
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      8 days, 21 hours ago

      I am not partnered with any bookie. What gave you that impression?

    2. circusmonkey
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      8 days, 21 hours ago

      Although I do like them. They gave me 8/1 on Liverpool to win by 10 points when they were 8 points clear.

  6. Fulchester's New Centr…
    • 3 Years
    9 days, 38 mins ago

    Thanks CM. Useful stuff, there is a reason the bookies never lose.

    Don't really understand why Community Articles are tucked away in a corner instead of being treated like "regular" articles.

    1. Major League Shocker
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      8 days, 23 hours ago

      It does have the benefit of being able to have a productive discussion without being littered with hundreds of RMTs all over the comments section, so I prefer the status quo.

  7. ragsyboys
    • 5 Years
    9 days, 35 mins ago

    Rodriguez or Doucoure ? Reason ?

    1. TheBrazilianRonaldo
      • 1 Year
      8 days, 20 hours ago

      I reckon Doucore gets 150, Rodríguez 180, so ppm I think Doucoure is better value pick in a much improved team. Which allows money spent elsewhere on Chelsea, Utd and City players in that Rodríguez price bracket

      1. The 12th Man
        • 7 Years
        8 days, 20 hours ago

        Digne is only 0.5m more than Doucoure though.

  8. AlcarUGA
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    8 days, 2 hours ago

    I've been eager for City defense in my squad and plan to be on Laporte as soon as I know he is playing regularly. COVID and the blank have me waiting for now.