And so, the 2017/18 Premier League season is drawing to a close, and what a year it has been. Manchester City blew everyone away, and only spent £317m on transfers to achieve it. Everton tried to copy their model by splashing out over £200m, but, despite Richard Keys’ endorsement, they’re ending the season in mid-table with their fans being sick of their manager.
Allardyce receives "get out of our club" where as Moyes got the classic "you don't need trophies to be a winner but he is a winner" pic.twitter.com/mmuxK56bBA
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 29, 2018
Speaking of which, it has been a marvellous campaign for the British Managers Club. If you think City spend a lot on transfers, imagine the sums of money trousered by the likes of Shakespeare, Pulis, Pardew, Clement and Hughes despite their failed efforts this season.
Then there’s Paul Lambert, who has won six of his last 39 top flight matches and been involved with two relegations in the process. And people say home grown managers don’t get opportunities.
It’s the latter two from this cabal of outstanding achievement in the field of excellence who still have a say in who will be relegated this season. Mark Hughes’ Southampton are three points ahead of Swansea, and have a goal difference advantage of nine.
With Cardiff getting promoted last week to boot, this could be the worst week in Swansea since that time Dougray Scott burned down a caravan with the Lewis family inside.
The Saints will almost certainly go marching into 2018/19 in the Premier League, but the only issue they have is that they are facing Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola gave the likes of Aguero, Sterling and De Bruyne the night off against Brighton on Wednesday, so is he looking to do Swansea a favour? Perhaps he has a holiday cottage in The Mumbles?
While City will almost certainly win, and are priced at 2/5 to do so, the odds of them winning by four-or-more are just 8/1. That’s the margin they won by at Swansea, funnily enough, so perhaps my Guardiola holiday theory isn’t watertight after all?
Anyway, even if Southampton take a hiding, Swansea also need a massive win over Stoke to stay up. The Swans’ manager, Carlos Carvalhal, is more interested in chicken than statistics, but here’s some nuggets of info he should be bearing in mind.
Stoke haven’t won any of their last 13 league matches, which is the longest run in the division. Happy Carlos! Swansea have the second worst run, of eight matches. Sad Carlos!
Paddy has odds of 19/1 that Swansea do something they’ve yet to do this season, which is win by four-or-more goals. Combine that with the same bet on Manchester City and your double is priced at 179/1. How do you like those numbers, Carlos? Southampton’s odds for relegation are 100/1, so if you think it’s going to happen, you may as well stick a quid on the aforementioned double.
Southampton losing and Swansea winning is a likely outcome, as that double is priced at around 6/4, but it’s the goals required which will almost certainly see the Swans paddling off to the Championship.
As for specific match bets at the wrong end of the table, I like the look of Manchester City to win and over 2.5 goals, at evens. City have featured in the most top flight away games with at least three goals over the past two seasons, and Southampton have found the net in three of their five home games against the top six in 2017/18. This game should feature a few goals.
In the scorer markets, I’d look to Raheem Sterling. He’s available at 7/2 to score the opener or evens to net at any time. With seven league goals on the road, only four players in the Premier League have scored more times behind enemy lines in 2017/18.
One of them is Eden Hazard, who has eight. If Chelsea are going to overcome their odds of 14/1 for a top four finish, chances are they’ll need the Belgian to put on a show. The Blues need a win before they are even in the conversation for Champions League football next season, but luckily for them it’s the end of the season which is when Hazard tends to come alive.
Both he and Giroud were on the bench against Huddersfield in mid-week, so it’s reasonable to think they’ll start at Newcastle. The former Gunner has four goals in his last five appearances for Chelsea, whereas Hazard only has one in the same period, so I’ll take the 6/5 on offer that Giroud scores, Paddy.
Chelsea usually have a fairly miserable time of it on Tyneside, as they’ve won none of their last four visits to face Newcastle. However, Benitez’s boys are clearly on the beach enjoying a job well done this season, so the bet has to be for an away win.
That bet is priced at 4/7, but as only Swansea have failed to score at home more times than Newcastle have this season, I’m going for Chelsea to win to nil, at 13/8.
But even if Antonio Conte signs off from the Premier League with a win, Liverpool only need a point to finish in the top four, thanks to their goal difference advantage of 15. Not even Newcastle have clocked out to that extent, and that’s why Jürgen Klopp’s team are just 1/50 to finish above Chelsea.
Even though the Reds are the only side in England’s top four divisions who are unbeaten on home turf in 2017/18, some Kopites still think their side will fall at the final hurdle.
That’s also despite Brighton having the second worst away record in the top flight, losing all five of their previous visits to the top six sides, and only scoring one away goal against the current top ten. Not even ‘Typical Liverpool’ can screw this up, and, as with Chelsea, the ‘win to nil’ bet looks appealing. It’s yours at 10/11.
Mohamed Salah has scored 18 league goals at home this season, which is eight more than Brighton have scored on the road. He hasn’t scored for three matches, but it’s only the second time this season he’s suffered such a drought.
The Egyptian king is three goals ahead of Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot, hence his price of 1/50 to claim the award, and I fancy him to score here too. Liverpool scored five at Brighton without him getting any, so he’ll surely cash in on Sunday. Salah is just 1/3 to get on the score sheet, and I like the look of the 19/10 on offer for him to score first and Liverpool to win.
And with that, the 2017/18 Premier League season will be complete, and we can start looking ahead to next year. Liverpool are 9/2 second favourites behind Manchester City at 8/13 to lift the title next May. It could be your year, right Liverpool fans?
*All odds Correct at time of posting